Google Music drops Beta label, still free, adds a store and Google+ sharing
Google had some big news today for music lovers. Google Music, the service that became available in May, has now shed its Beta label and has certainly grown up in these months.
First of all, Google Music still lets you upload 20,000 songs to ‘the cloud’ for free. That price point is here to stay, according to Google. Just like before, you can stream or download those songs to your computers or phones. The Google Music Android app has gotten an Ice Cream Sandwich-inspired refresh (which was leaked last month) and is now available in its new form on the Android Market.
The biggest announcement today was that the Android Market has now received a Music store as well. This is only available for those of you in the US – in fact everything that’s been announced or discussed today is sadly US-only.
The music store launches with 8 million tracks ready to be listened to, and that number will quickly grow to 13 million in the near future. Of the ‘big four’ music labels, EMI and Universal are on board, while Warner and Sony aren’t. That may of course change in the future. The songs all come in 320 kbps MP3 form, which is higher quality than what you usually see in digital content stores.
The new Music store allows you to preview songs. And once you buy a song or album, you can share it with your friends on Google+. If you share it with people you have circled, they’ll be able to listen to the full track (or even full album) once for free. That’s something quite cool – too bad it’s yet again limited to US folk. Apparently international users of Google+ (or those who the sharer of the music hasn’t circled) will only get a quick preview of the song or album being shared. In Google+, you can seamlessly start playback straight from the shared item in your timeline.
When you buy a song from the store, it’s automatically added to your Google Music library and instantly shows up on all Google Music interfaces (Web, mobile app, and so on), ready for immediate playback.
T-Mobile is on board with Google Music too, and soon it will allow you to purchase songs and have the cost show up on your phone bill, thus negating the need for using a credit card.
A few artists (The Rolling Stones, Shakira, Busta Rhymes, Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, and Tiësto) are offering exclusive content for Google Music.
The Music store is now live at market.android.com and will be rolled into the Android Market on your Android 2.2+ phone in the next few days.