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Google Music Beta Enhances the Cloud for Streaming

The fight for streaming music from the cloud seems like a no-brainer win for Google, yet the behemoth’s Music Beta service hasn’t received as much attention as it should have by now. The sheep will likely flock to iCloud just out of simplicity’s sake and fear of the unknown, despite the fact that Apple is only offering 5 gigs of storage for free. Google on the other hand is *giving away storage for up to 20,000 songs (*while in Beta). In layman’s terms, that’s a boatload, and roughly approximates to 100 gigs (based on what I’ve uploaded from my collection thus far). The web interface is very simple and user-intuitive. All of the expected features are included: customizable artwork, keyboard controls, rating system, and playlists. For those who utilize the “Genius” feature in iTunes, Google Music Beta offers “Instant Mixes,” which creates an on-the-fly, algorithm-gathered mix based on the current track streaming. Further sweetening the deal is Music Plus, a Chrome extension by Adam Pash, which enhances Google Music’s web experience significantly, offering integration, instant lyric retrieval, as well as pop-up notifications. It is an essential plug-in for Google Music Beta and utterly streamlines the experience. The accompanying Android app is Google Music Beta’s secret weapon. It offers real-time streaming access to my 100 gigs of music. I was positive the app would crash instantly when I opened it, considering the amount of data it has to be able to access, but after an initial pause to load all of the artists and songs, the app flows as smoothly as anything else integrated by Google into Android. Being able to call up any album or song in my collection is an indispensable facet to mobile computing. Even with 100 gigs of music storage, I still require two apps to fulfill my streaming music needs. I use Rdio as my primary music source, which is hands-down the sleekest of the streaming services (despite all the PR hoopla about Spotify), and I use Google Music Beta to supplement what Rdio has yet to license (which tends to be the more obscure artists). I’ve experimented with much of the competition (Amazon Cloud, Spotify, Mog, Rhapsody, etc.), and for the ultimate Android experience, Rdio and Google Music Beta offer the most comprehensive solution.