Google Play Music Targets iTunes Match
December 18, 2012

Google’s Play Music Service Sets Its Sights On iTunes Match

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

The cloud is a great thing. Granted, it´s certainly not as reliable and secure as we may have hoped it would be, but for the most basic operations it´s incredibly convenient. A new contact added to a smartphone can be instantly available on a laptop. Music downloaded from an online music store can almost instantly be played on a myriad of devices.

Amazon, Apple, and Google offer these kinds of services to users of their consumer electronics devices, but when it comes to music specifically, Amazon and Apple have had a steady hand up on the competition in moving music to the cloud.

Today, Google has announced they´re making moving music to the cloud even easier for those users who want to sign up for their Play Music service. Now, Google´s Play Music can instantly scan and match those songs in your library with music that´s already available in Google´s online music library. In a Google+ posting, Google announced the service as a way to instantly bring your entire music library along for the ride to any points your holiday travels may take you.

“Our new music matching feature gets your songs into your online music library on Google Play much faster,” reads the Google+ post.

“We´ll scan your collection and quickly rebuild it in the cloud - all for free. And we´ll stream your music back to you at up to 320 kbps.”

Google had already rolled out this service to their European listeners last month and has made the service live to the US today.

With today´s announcement, Google has ticked off a few more boxes in the “pro” column for users trying to decide on a cloud-based music service.

Apple´s service, for instance, allows iPad and iPhone users to download any song in their Match library over the air or on Wi-Fi. While these songs are downloaded at the “high-quality” 256 kbps rate, they´re a slightly lower quality than Google´s 320 kbps. In fairness, it´s likely very few users will notice a significant difference between the two files, especially when played through in-ears or other mobile friendly earphones. Google also trumps Apple´s service by offering this service for free, while Apple charges $25 a year for the privilege.

Google´s free service doesn´t come without a slight caveat, however.

Google has said they´ll allow users to match up to 20,000 songs– a good sized library of music– but no more than that. They also don´t offer a paid option for those who want to match more than 20,000 songs. Google´s Play Music service also restricts playback to songs less than 300 megabytes per song.

Apple´s iTunes Match, on the other hand, will match up to 25,000 songs per account. Additionally, iTunes is the world´s largest online music reseller, and while neither Google´s Play Music service or iTunes Match particularly care where a user gets their music, having the vast expanse of the iTunes library makes it easier to buy and manage any digital music collection.

Previously, adding a library of music to Google´s Play Music service was a lengthy ordeal. Rather than scan and match a library with an online store of songs, (as Apple has always done) users had to upload their songs, one by one, into the cloud. While the end result may have been desirable, the ordeal could have taken “weeks,” as Steve Jobs put it when he announced iTunes Match last year.