Google I/O 2011 is kicking off today, and there’s bound to plenty of Android-related news to keep us busy. We’re looking to hear about Ice Cream Sandwich, as well as what plans are in place to launch a Google Music service. Rumors about the latter have been prevalent this morning, claiming Google was rethinking its relationship with the labels and considering going the Amazon cloud-storage route. Now it seems all but a certainty that a Google Music announcement is imminent, as the service’s website has finally gone live, giving us our first opportunity to request an invitation to the beta.
Since last summer, we’ve been trying to get a handle on Google’s plans for a music service. Would it be an iTunes-like storefront? Could you purchase tracks once and then stream them from Google’s servers whenever you pleased? Lately, with the Google Music Honeycomb app that surfaced this spring, it’s looked like the company was considering letting users upload their own music collections, so they could easily access their songs remotely. We still thought that might end up integrated with a music store, but it’s looking increasingly likely that Google has put a stop to its licensing negotiations with the major labels and will keep its hands clean of any music sales, simply giving users a place to store their own music.
While we’re still waiting for a formal announcement of Google Music, the website is already up and running, and the app is available in the Android Market. First, you’ll need an invitation to join, so request one if you’re interested. Once Google sends an invite your way, you can start uploading your collection from your PC to Google’s cloud. You’ll then be able to access it over the web, or directly through the Android app. The app will automatically cache local copies of songs you’ve recently listened to on your smartphone, for those times when you can’t get a data signal, and you can tag specific artists and albums which should always be backed-up locally. Features like an automatic playlist generator should hopefully make Google Music easy to pick up and enjoy.
For now, the service appears to be free, but Google may end up charging for it once Google Music leaves beta.
Via: Android Police