We can’t say it comes as much of a surprise, but Google has just taken the wraps off of a service many of us have been waiting for years to see… or should we say, hear. Google’s freshly unveiled Music Beta service will give users a cloud-based solution for storing and streaming their digital music collections — and we mean, their entire collections; Google’s service supports the storage of up to 20,000 songs as opposed to the 1,000 tracks supported by Amazon’s Cloud Drive product, which Music Beta will compete with directly. Google’s Music Manager app supports Windows and Mac, and it allows users to upload their tracks directly to Music Beta. The Web-based music manager is a full-featured music player that supports organization, playlist creation and plenty more. The related Android app features all of the same functionality as the Web player, and playlists created on one device will instantly be available on all devices. Recently played music is always cached by the mobile player, and albums can also be downloaded and stored for playback when data connections are unavailable. Music Beta is available initially by invitation only, and it is free — at least, it’s free during the beta period. Google’s updated music app with Music Beta support is available in the Android Market beginning today.
Google is expected to announce its long anticipated entrance into cloud-based music on Tuesday from its Google I/O conference in San Francisco. The New York Times reports that the service will initially be called Music Beta by Google, and it will allow users to store 20,000 songs in a cloud locker for free, which can then be accessed by any PC or Android device. Activity will be synced automatically between devices, so playlists created on one device will be accessible from all others, according to the report. Like Amazon’s recent Cloud Drive and Cloud Player offerings, it is expected that Google will launch its service without the support of major record labels. Also like Amazon’s offering, the service is expected to initially be very limited in functionality. In the beginning, Music Beta will reportedly be accessible by invite only. Motorola XOOM users with Verizon Wireless models will all receive invitations, and others will be able to sign up for invites at music.google.com. There is currently no timeline in terms of when the service might become available to the general public. We’ll be on hand reporting live from I/O later today, so be sure to tune in for all the latest news as it breaks.
Amazon’s Cloud Player, which provides access to music stored on your Amazon Cloud Drive, is now working in Safari on iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Amazon hasn’t announced the support just yet, but if you navigate to your Amazon Cloud Player account from an iOS device — and ignore a few warnings about your device not being supported — you’ll be able to access and play all of your tunes. As TechCrunch first spotted, your music will also pause if you receive a phone call or a push notification. Amazon has only recognized full support through computers and on Android smartphones, so there may still be a few bugs to be found. We’re hoping there’s a native iOS app in the works, too, but we won’t hold our breath just yet. More →
When it comes to Twitter, we’re just as addicted as every other poor soul who got sucked in. We’re constantly connected on our phones and computers, always checking our timelines, and we crouch in a corner and cry every time the fail whale rears its ugly head. As addictive as the service is though, Twitter is often asleep at the wheel when it comes to features. Luckily, that’s where third-party developers come into play and when it comes to Twitter apps, there are now thousands of choices across every platform imaginable. Even once you’ve found your Twitter apps of choice, however, one of the most annoying things about being addicted to Twitter is constantly seeing the same tweets as you move back and forth between your phone, PC tablet and other devices. What’s more, when you make changes to your mobile client — say, adding a new list column — you have to make the same changes all over again in your other clients. But what if there was a better way? More →
French blog Consomac has discovered an interesting bit of intel inside Apple’s latest developer build of Mac OS X Lion. The information insinuates that users of the company’s MobileMe cloud service will be prompted to upgrade to an offering dubbed “Castle” at some point in the future. It is unclear if Castle will be the new name of an expanded cloud-service offering — iCloud? — or rather the name of an update to the current service. The company’s World Wide Developer Conference is set to take place next month, and we’re sure most of the details will be ironed out by then. More →
According to the latest Internet rumor, Apple’s presumed cloud-based service may be getting a familiar moniker. Blog GigaOM is reporting that the Cupertino company has purchased the domain name iCloud.com from Swedish company Xcerion. We wouldn’t be surprised if the rumor turned out to be true, Apple has had a love affair with the vowel “i” since the early 1990′s, although, as TechCrunch points out, the iPad was thought to be called the iSlate at one point. The report states that Apple paid $4.5 million for the domain name, and states that Xcerion recently re-branded its service’s name from iCloud to CloudMe. Apple did not respond to the site’s request for comment. More →
Research In Motion on Wednesday announced its acquisition of social calendar service provider Tungle. Tungle runs a like-named service that allows users to maintain a cloud-based calendar where events and schedules can easily be shared with contacts. The solution works across a variety of mobile and desktop platforms. ”BlackBerry is a fantastic solution for connecting users to the people and information that matter most throughout their day,” said RIM’s VP of Collaboration and Social Networking, Tom Goguen, in a statement. ”By working with Tungle to add cloud-based, cross-platform calendar capabilities to the BlackBerry platform we can further enrich our customers’ experience with BlackBerry and continue to help them get things done.” More →
According to Peter Kafka over at All Things D, Apple’s presumed cloud-based music service will not be all that dissimilar from Amazon’s. The report details that Apple, like Amazon, will allow iTunes users to store newly purchased tracks and already-owned digital music in an online locker. Unlike Amazon, however, the Cupertino company is looking for deals with major record labels.“They’ve been very aggressive and thoughtful about it,” said an industry executive speaking with Kafka. “It feels like they want to go pretty soon.” The report also notes that the industry buy-in and licensing will allow Apple to store a single, master copy of a digital music file on its services and share that file with authorized users — making the company’s storage schema much more streamlined. Amazon’s Cloud Drive implementation is based on its S3 storage service and functions more like a cloud-based hard drive — every time a user buys a track it’s uploaded to that specific users online locker. “Sources tell me that Apple has already procured deals from at least two of the big four labels (Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony and EMI) within the last two months,” writes Kafka. “One source tells me Apple content boss Eddy Cue will be in New York tomorrow to try to finalize remaining deals.” Apple has some experience with cloud-based services as it has offered its MobileMe service — formerly iTools and .Mac — since early 2000.
UPDATE: CNET is now reporting that Apple and Warner Music Group reached a deal this afternoon: “Apple has an agreement with Warner Music Group to offer the record label’s tracks on iTunes’ upcoming cloud-music service.” More →
Greenpeace recently released a report titled How dirty is your data: A look at the energy choices that power cloud computing, which graded Amazon, Akamai, Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo across three “green” categories: transparency, infrastructure siting, and mitigating strategy. While Greenpeace offered some praise to the Cupertino-based company for improving transparency and its efforts to move towards cleaner energy, it failed Apple in the “infrastructure siting,” category for choosing to build its new $1 billion iDataCenter — which requires enough energy to power 80,000 U.S. homes – in North Carolina.
“Apple’s decision to locate its iDataCenter in North Carolina, which has an electrical grid among the dirtiest in the country (61% coal, 31% nuclear) indicates a lack of a corporate commitment to clean energy supply for its cloud operations. The fact that the alternative location for Apple’s iDataCenter was Virginia, where electricity also comes from very dirty sources, is an indication that, in addition to tax incentives, access to inexpensive energy, regardless of its source, is a key driver in Apple’s site selection.”
Hit the jump for more, as well as the official report card. More →
According to a report filed by Reuters, Apple will edge out Google in the race to provide users with a cloud music service. “Apple’s plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an Internet connection,” writes Reuters, citing two people familiar with Apple’s plans. The article goes on to cite a source familiar with Google’s cloud music plans, simply saying that the venture has stalled. “Apple has not told its music partners of when it intends to introduce its music locker,” the report continues. It has been widely rumored that Apple’s new North Carolina data center will be the bit-locker and heart of this new music venture. Apple declined Reuters request for comment. More →
With Amazon having just launched its Cloud Drive digital locker product and Apple rumored to be on the verge of introducing a cloud-based music service of its own, the last thing Google needs is a new barrier in its negotiations with music labels. Unfortunately, according to a new report on Friday, Google has positioned a new hurdle in its own path by changing the terms of its proposed Google Music service in the middle of talks with labels. As a result, Google’s conversations with major labels have now “gone backwards,” and Google may be thinking about throwing in the towel and launching an Amazon-like locker service where users can upload their own songs and stream them. This would be less than optimal for Google as it would likely pull in far less revenue than a subscription music service or an iTunes-like store, but at least it would give users a way to stream their music on any PC or Android device. More →
Apple’s mysterious new billion-dollar data center in North Carolina has been a recurring topic of interest among tech sites for quite some time now. The massive facility is thought to be a hub that will power Apple’s next generation of cloud-based services, which may or may not include a subscription streaming music service tied to iTunes and a personal digital locker product. With future core Apple services relying on the new facility, the company had to ensure it found a seasoned veteran to run the data center, and it looks like Apple may have found its man: Kevin Timmons. A new rumor suggests that Apple recently poached Timmons from rival Microsoft, where he has held a General Manager position since 2009. Prior to that, Timmons was Yahoo!’s Vice President of Operations for 10 years. Microsoft confirmed that Timmons recently left the company, but it would not address his future plans. More →
A new job listing on Apple’s website reveals that the company is assembling a small team of engineers to build what the company refers to as “the future of cloud services at Apple.” The job listing, which seeks a Cloud Systems Software Engineer, calls for a programmer who will “explore the far reaches of the possible by joining the team building the future of cloud services at Apple!” Apple is rumored to be working on several new cloud-based offerings that may launch in the near future. Among the more recent rumors is rumblings that Apple will revamp its MobileMe service to include a digital locker that would allow users to store music and videos online and then stream the files to PCs and iOS devices. Amazon recently launched a Cloud Drive service that offers similar functionality. More →