Google takes aim at Apple with free cloud music service

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Google offers free 20,000-track online locker to compete with Apple's paid-for service

Google is taking a leaf out of Apple’s book - and possibly some of its users - by bringing its music matching service to the UK.

The service was quietly launched alongside music sales on Google Play Music and the Nexus devices released earlier this week, but the 20,000-track online storage facility is worth looking at in more detail.

Google’s Play Scan and Match system puts it on a direct collision course with Apple because it allows users to upload all the music from their iTunes library in a manner that could undermine Apple's own Match service.

We’ll scan your iTunes or My Music folder, and any songs that match against our database will be automatically added to your online music library

A spokesperson for Google explained that the system was reflective of the way the industry was evolving.

"People can upload from any service folder," the Google spokesperson told PC Pro. "People have already paid for the music so they should be able to listen to it anywhere – it’s the equivalent to Apple’s Match, but this is free."

By comparison Apple’s service costs £22 a year. Google’s service is effectively a cloud-based locker for music which is then available anywhere on Android or iOS hardware or over the web - but the clever part is the matching tools.

"The new Scan and Match service streamlines the process of uploading your personal music to Google Play - we’ll scan your iTunes or My Music folder, and any songs that match against our database will be automatically added to your online music library," the company said.

"You can store up to 20,000 songs online, for free, and stream tracks to any device."

As PC Pro columnist Paul Ockenden noted, the Match service’s most useful benefit is how it helps organise collections of music that are often scattered across numerous computers and folders.

As Ockenden pointed out, Apple was winning the cloud music battle, at least because Google had yet to launch, but the arrival of Google on the scene could threaten the iPhone maker’s dominant position.

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