Google is launching a new service in the U.S. that lets users store their music remotely and access them from any compatible device, including mobile phones, tablets and computers.
Music Beta by Google will be available by invitation only starting on Tuesday, Google announced at its yearly conference for software developers in San Francisco. Invitations can be requested on the Music Beta by Google website.
The service will be free at first while it is being tested. The company did not say what it plans to charge later.
Users will be able to load up to 20,000 songs to "the cloud" — tech speak for storing data on remote servers and accessing them through an Internet connection. They can create playlists manually, or based on a particular song, which adds songs to a playlist that sounds similar to and goes well with that particular song.
Google said users will be able to store up to 20,000 songs.
The long-awaited offering competes with Amazon's cloud-based music service, which also lets users play songs they have uploaded to the cloud on their computer or on a smartphone that runs Google's Android. Apple Inc. is also believed to be working on a similar service.
Google had long been rumoured to be on the verge of launching its own Android-compatible music streaming service. Technology news site cnet reported in late March that Google had begun testing Google Music internally, suggesting it would launch soon. In April, Google bought Toronto-based PushLife Inc., a company that makes apps that enable non-Apple mobile phones to play, organize, share and buy music easily.
What's still unclear is whether the recording industry will go along with Google's new service. Google did not mention recording deals in its announcement Tuesday. The Recording Industry Association of America declined to comment.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, also unveiled a movie rental service that's now available on the Android market, its answer to Apple's app store. Movies are available to rent for $1.99, $2.99 or $3.99.
And in a future-is-now moment, the company previewed a service it is calling Android (at) Home, which lets Android applications interact with appliances and electronic gadgets in your home. With it, users will be able to use their Android-based devices to control lights, dishwashers or music players or a slew of other devices.