The world of Android music is about to get flipped upside down.
We've been hearing about Google's plans to launch a cloud-based music service for some time now -- heck, Google itself gave us a peek at the plans during its I/O conference in May. (The news was largely overshadowed by word of the Android 2.2 upgrade, which was announced at the same event.) If the latest rumors prove true, the Android-centric song system could debut within the next few months.
If you happen to be a competing executive who owns way too many turtlenecks, this is probably cause for concern.
Get Ready for Google Music
The most recent Google music rumors come courtesy of Reuters, which reports that Google is deep in talks with record labels and planning to launch a "download store and digital song locker" by the upcoming holiday season. The labels, according to Reuters, have become increasingly troubled by Apple's level of control over digital music and are excited to see a true contender emerge.
"Finally here's an entity with the reach, resources and wherewithal to take on iTunes as a formidable competitor by tying it into search and [the] Android mobile platform," an unnamed exec is quoted as saying.
So what would Google Music do for Android? A lot. Let's face it: For all of Android's strengths, a simple and user-friendly music management system has always been something that's evaded the platform.
Don't get me wrong: The freedom from being tied to a proprietary tool is fantastic -- especially when that tool is a bloated and locked-down piece of junk (cough, cough, iTunes). The ability to drag and drop files onto your phone like a flash drive is invaluable, too. But if you want an easy way to manage playlists and sync music, your options are rather limited. DoubleTwist gets the job done, but it isn't exactly the most elegant or full-featured solution. And if you're new to Android, it can be tough to figure out where to begin.
Google Music could change all of that. First, the service will introduce a more intuitive way of buying music: From what the Android team has described, Google Music will be integrated right into the Android Market. You'll click on songs on your PC, and within seconds, they'll be sent to your phone over-the-air. This purchasing system will likely also be available in some form through regular Google Web searches.
Purchasing aside, the upcoming Android music service will allow you to stream songs from your PC directly to your phone -- no downloads required. Thanks to Google's acquisition of a company called Simplify Media, you'll be able to access your entire music library without having to store a single MP3 file on your device.
Those two features combined will give Android a powerful new edge in the realm of mobile music. If Google is smart, it'll build functions for importing existing music and managing playlists into these tools as well. All put together, it could mark the beginning of a robust and intuitive music management system for Android.
Of course, none of this would prevent you from using a third-party alternative or copying music to your phone manually -- hey, we aren't talking about Apple here. But for users who want a simple, one-stop solution, it'd offer a hassle- and confusion-free way of getting everything accomplished. And you've gotta admit, the cloud-based downloading and streaming sound pretty damn cool.
Android has undoubtedly been a work in progress. Since the launch of that first Android phone nearly two years ago, the platform has grown in leaps and bounds, filling in the gaps and adding in more power and flexibility with each passing turn.
Get ready, Android fans. The next piece of the puzzle is about to fall into place.