Google announces cloud-based music service

Hugo Barra, Product Management Director, during a keynote speech at the Google IO Developers Conference in San Francisco Tuesday, May 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
May 10, 2011 8:00:27 PM PDT
Google announced its new cloud-based music service Tuesday, called Music Beta, before a crowd of 5,000 developers gathered for its Google I/O annual conference. It is not yet ready for the public, but it is sure to give consumers an option that Apple's iTunes currently does not offer.

The service is cloud-based, meaning that the users' library of songs is stored on Google's servers, not on their devices. On top of that, there will be no need to use a cable to tether devices to a computer to sync content. Up to 20,000 songs can be stored per user. No cost was given, but during the beta stage, it will be free. However, the beta version is for the U.S. market and by invitation only.

"If there's one place to store your music, which is what I've been looking for for forever, especially on the cloud and having it sync up with all these devices? just waiting for something like that to come out," said start-up entrepreneur Sashi Bommakanty.

That said, Apple is possibly working on its own cloud-based service as it prepares to open a massive data center in North Carolina.

Google also launched a movie rental service Tuesday that is available to the public now. Movies can be rented starting at $1.99 and they will be streamed to any Android device -- mobile phone or tablet. The movies will be featured in a new section of the Android Market, Google's applications store.

Android is an open source operating system that Google engineers developed and have made available to anyone. A new version called Honeycomb, version 3.1, was released Tuesday for mobile phones. Honeycomb is the first operating system specifically designed first for tablets. The Motorola Xoom was the first tablet to deploy Honeycomb.

A newer version of Android is in development, to be called Ice Cream Sandwich. Google gave a sweeping preview of its potential capabilities, hoping to inspire the developers attending the keynote speech to create applications. Ice Cream Sandwich is due out in the fall. On stage, Google engineers showed how Ice Cream Sandwich might be able to turn tablets into an integrated home management device, controlling light fixtures and music playback. They used the moniker "Google@Home" as a concept name.

"This new protocol enables very low-cost connectivity with anything that's electrical in your home, such as lights, alarm clocks, thermostats, dishwashers, etc.," said Google engineering director Joe Britt.

However, the idea of Google having access to your home bothered this developer on privacy grounds.

"Assume what you do is just for your own eyes, and on the other hand, how you use your appliances, how often do you play music, what you eat, it's a huge marketing database," said software developer Monika Adamczyk.

Android now has 100 million activations and 4.5 billion applications installed.

The keynote presentation did not feature Google's co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, or its past CEO, Eric Schmidt. Instead, a series of vice presidents and team leaders took to the stage. The keynote was streamed to 122 cities to an estimated audience of 10,000 people. Cairo and Beijing were two of the 122 locations joining in.


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