Google Music puts your MP3s in the cloud, but UK misses out
Google has demoed a couple of new multimedia services, including a streaming and storage service for music, and an app for renting and streaming movies. Neither of them are coming to the UK any time soon, but here's the skinny.
Let's start with Google Music. Essentially it's a digital locker for your tunes. Google will graciously play host to your music collection so you can stream the lot of it at your convenience, to just about any device, and we'd recommend you click through the photos above to see how it'll look. It's launching in beta in the US only today, and allows users to upload 20,000 songs, which will certainly cover most peoples' entire music collection.
Not only is your whole stack of choons then backed up online by the Big G, it means you can access all of your music from any device, just by signing in with your Google account. That would be incredibly useful, and means you needn't faff around with syncing and cables to get your music on to a new device.
The company showed off the desktop version of Google Music, as well as tablet and mobile versions. The tablet iteration for Honeycomb devices looked particularly impressive, with swoopy menus aplenty, while the mobile version is a tad more basic, but certainly seemed very slick.
The service will be able to automatically generate playlists for you, picking 25 tunes from your collection it thinks you'll enjoy, based on a single song, much like iTunes' Genius feature. Google is the master of crafty AI, so here's hoping that feature works as advertised, and that it can learn what we enjoy based on our listening history.
It can also cache music to your device, so if you lose connection the tracks you've already heard should remain available to listen to. You can also choose to download music to your device to listen to when you don't have an Internet connection, or when you want to save on data charges.
Google Music is free while it's in beta, and it's launching today as an invite-only service, but sadly only in the US. It could be some time before we see it rolled out to UK shores, if ever. It's likely there'll be a small amount of music storage for free, with more gigabytes commanding a premium.
Google also showed off a hi-fi system that could stream tunes directly from the cloud, part of an initiative it calls Project Tungsten.
Google is also going to Hollywood -- launching a movie service that lets you rent and stream films. You can store the movie locally on your device if you want to. We saw one film in Google's demo that cost $1.99 (£1.20), but there's no telling how much other movies will cost. Oscar monarch The King's Speech was a very reasonable $3.99 (£2.40).
A movie app for Android tablets will come as part of the all-new Honeycomb 3.1 update, and there's a movie app coming for mobiles in the next two weeks.
Details on this service are a little scarce at the moment, but we'll surely know more soon. What we do know is that it's currently only destined for the US, which makes us cry.
Still, this puts Google in direct competition with services such as Netflix, which will make for an interesting digital punch-up.
Google is once more wading into other companies' territory. Is this curtains for Spotify? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.
Here's the music service on the desktop.
This is the attractive tablet interface.
This is album view on the tablet.
And here's the version for mobiles.
A Cover Flow-like interface features on both the tablet and mobile versions.