Google Announces Music Storage and Movie Rentals
At the Google I/O conference today (May 10), Google announced several new developments for Android, but the most exciting thing for the average consumer will likely be the debut of Google Music Beta and movie rentals through the Android Market.
Google Music Beta is Google's answer to the music services Apple, Amazon and other companies have been creating for years. Google Music Beta isn't so much about buying music (though that can be done, too) as it is about hosting the music you already own and making it available anywhere.
Users can upload all their music, up to 20,000 songs (can you hear the sigh of relief from the music lovers?) to Google's cloud services and stream them from anywhere there's an Internet connection. There's also an app for Android phones that not only streams music but remembers the most recent and most played songs in your library and keeps them available offline in case there isn't a data connection available.
Google has also taken great strides to make Music Beta a universal experience no matter how many devices you use. Any change made to your Google Music Library will be synced to other devices. And there are even smart playlist features that can analyze your music and instantly create a playlist based on a song that strikes your fancy at the moment.
Google Music is free while it's in beta, but Google did not release details about when it will leave beta and how much it might cost when it does.
The other major media announcement from Google I/O is the ability to rent movies from the Android Market, which along with the addition of movie rentals on YouTube firmly cements Google's place as a content provider (and tightens the competition for other streaming and download services from Apple , Amazon, Netflix and more).
While the movie rentals are obviously catering to Android devices, the movies can actually be watched on several kinds of devices, including computers (through the Web browser) and tablets. The movie can either be streamed immediately or downloaded for later viewing. Google gives renters 30 days to start watching a rental, but once the movie is started it must be finished in 24 hours.
Google has a nice selection of popular and current movies to start with and plans to expand the offering in the future. Downloads start at $1.99, although most of the recent releases are $3.99. Movies in high definition format start at $4.99.
Movie rentals are available now through a Web browser, but the necessary Android 2.2 update for smartphones won't arrive for a couple weeks, and the Movies app for tablets will come with the Honeycomb 3.1 update this summer.