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Google officially unveils 'cloud' music beta

Offline listening on Android

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Google I/O Google has officially launched its online service for storing your digital music on its servers, following closely in Amazon's footsteps.

The company unveiled the service Tuesday morning at its annual developer conference in downtown San Francisco. The service can be used across PCs and notebooks as well as Android smartphones and tablets, and it's designed to synchronize your music library and playlists across devices. If you create a new playlist on your phone, for example, it will automatically show up when you access the service on your PC. And with Android phones, you can listen to music when offline.

The company is negotiating with the big record companies to secure licenses for the music, but at this point, the licenses are not yet in place. This is a beta version of the service, and it's only available by invitation to users in the US.

Once your music is uploaded to the service, it can be accessed from any device running Android 2.2 or higher or any other web-connected device that supports Adobe Flash. In other words, you can't use it on an iPhone or an iPad.

The service is similar to the one Amazon introduced earlier this year. With both services, the user uploads the actual music files sitting on their machines, which is how the companies sidestep record-company licenses. At a press briefing this morning at its conference, Google said that it "respects" copyrights and that, because of this, it has built the service to facilitate the use of your own music collection.

You can request an invitation to Google's music service here. ®

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