Google's JAM with Chrome lets users play in virtual rock bands

The Web giant is testing a new social feature that lets users lay down guitar licks and blast virtual saxophones in an interactive Chrome Web app.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr

Google is trying an experiment: it's letting armchair musicians shred virtual guitars and bang animated keyboards with a new interactive Web app called JAM, which is on its Chrome browser.

"If you ever dreamed of playing in a band, now's your chance to be a rock star," Google Creative Lab's marketing manager Emma Turpin wrote in a blog post today. "No matter what your level of talent -- from daydreaming air guitarist to music pro -- you can JAM together in real time over the web."

The way JAM works is it lets users invite friends anywhere in the world join them to play music online within the Chrome browser. The program gives users 19 different instruments to choose from, including bass guitars, drums, and keyboards.

"In the default 'easy mode' you can experiment by clicking individual strings, drum pads or keys, or you can play around with the four different autoplay functions and let the machines do the work," Turpin wrote. "Switch to "pro mode" to play any instrument using your keyboard."

Google has been upping its music profile over the past few months. It announced last month that it would soon be rolling out its scan-and-match feature for the company's music service in Europe and in the U.S. shortly after. Scan-and-match is a feature that lets users store music on computer servers of a host service. The service can then stream songs over the Internet to the user's choice of Web-connected music players.