Google officially unveils 'cloud' music beta
Offline listening on Android
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. ®
What's the point?
Amazon's service came out sooner and it's much better than this.
At least with Amazon's you can put your purchases there (no need to download them) and it now streams to Apple's iOS devices too.
It's silly to have released this now while it's still in this sorry state.
I was using ballpark figures in my head, while working on a particularly gnarly job - so my math was somewhat out - oopsy.
But for streaming to a car/non-audio-friendly situation, such as boggo headphones on a train etc, 128-256 is acceptable, but for proper listening, through a hifi or reference-ish headphones, you probably want local FLAC files, rather than streamed FLACs (bit for bit in terms of data usage vs sound quality).
That said, my FLAC rip of Chinese Democracy is 475Mb, 15 tracks, 30mb each on average (only a few tracks are below 30mb, actually) - so I'm not that far off the mark (compared to reasonably MP3 where almost every track is below 10mb even at 320kbps it's still huge - three times the size), although it would depend on the type of music, of course.
Using that as a reference though, if you listen to five different, complete albums a month, that's near 2gb, which is pretty much on the verge of most mobile ISPs data caps - hence my point of moderate level MP3 compression being useful for 'non-reference' listening. It's good enough, and doesn't destroy your bandwidth allowance - hence why it's probably the optimal choice.
Even 320kbps is a around half to one third of the size of FLAC - which makes a massive difference when comparing transfer rates and sizes.
I'm surprised Google haven't used their WebM experience to create their own audio-only codec though, which would be Very Google, if you think about it...
Anyway, as I say, you're not wrong, but I stick to my point - I can see why they went with MP3; it makes sense in terms of quality vs bandwidth. If you want lossless quality you can copy it locally. If you want easy, accessible-from-anywhere-access, MP3 is (Alas) the way to go.
60mb per track?
I don't know what you're listening to but my average FLAC file size is about 20Mb. I doubt that Google's streaming protocol manages to increase it by 300%.
Most Youtube movies are bigger than this and yet people still stream them, some people even use Youtube as a music player so I don't see what's the problem.
Streaming your entire music collection over 3G is pointless anyway, compressed or not if many people start doing it over many hours a day you can be sure mobile operators will be rushing to downgrade this traffic, even if you're on the rare unlimited plans. 128kbits? No thanks.