Why this ex-iPhone user believes Google’s new music service will rock

by Marty Gabel

You’ve probably been reading all about the new Google Music Beta service announced at I/O today. There’s been plenty of news, and even some first looks to whet your appetite. I eagerly signed-up at the website, but like millions of others, am still awaiting my full beta invitation. Let’s hope those show up soon.

Although full details are still emerging and we’re not quite sure how much storage will run you (rumors of free space for 20,000 songs available to beta users is highly exciting), I do know one thing -- Google Music is going to make listening to music on your Android device a whole lot easier. I don’t think Google’s Music service is going to be essential when it comes to buying new albums as it lacks the music industry’s cooperation, but when it comes to simply streaming and accessing what you already have, it could be a winner, and I’ll be expecting Apple to follow suit within a few months.

I used to be an iPhone user and still rock the iPod Touch. I’ve always been a Mac fan, and I’m still using iTunes because, for all its quirks and issues, it just works. But when I originally got my first Android device, loading up music on it was a pain in the butt. I do have a lot of music on my hard-drive now -- iTunes tells me it’s 20,652 songs to be precise -- taking up 109.36GB of space.

Of course, my first generation iPhone could only take a few GBs of music, but transferring it was seamless and easy. Attaching my Droid Incredible to my Mac laptop, and having to use a separate program from the Android Market just to upload it was not too much fun. In the end, after trying a few different apps like doubleSync, I settled on a nifty little app called iSyncr because it does a great job transferring playlists seamlessly from iTunes and even takes care of your album artwork (it’s the little things that make me happy sometimes).

Still too much work... until now

But it certainly wasn’t straightforward, required a bit of extra research, and it’s still a tad clunky and inconvenient. In addition, iSyncr doesn’t like any of the DRM-locked music I’ve bought from iTunes. But that’s a debate for another time, and is mainly Apple’s problem, not Android’s. Fortunately, it’s happy with regular MP3s. At the same time, the music industry’s restrictions on allowing Spotify to be available to US consumers has been a huge bone of contention for many.

So, here’s me, a big music fan, jumping through hoops just get some tunes on my Incredible when it used to be so simple on the iPhone. I know... I should’ve dumped iTunes long ago and maybe wouldn’t have had to face the hassle, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be the only one delighted by the prospect of a simple, seamless way to listen to music anywhere.

It’s probably absurd to have to have all my music on my laptop’s hard drive, plus the fact that I have to back it up on a separate drive just to be safe. A cloud storage place where all my music can live free and be listened to anywhere, over Wi-Fi, on any device, and especially over 3G or 4G when simply walking to work is definitely cause for celebration. I’ve already started this with Amazon’s Cloud Player, and it does a good job, though the storage space is limited unless you’re willing to pay a lot. I’m happy about having access to ALL my music from anywhere, and this is why Google’s Music Beta is exciting, especially the way it syncs from device to device.

Even back in the iPhone days, I was selectively choosing a playlist and adding it via iTunes. Now, I still have to choose (or randomly shuffle) 6GB of tunes and sync them with my Android, but Google Music Beta has the potential to change all this and let me access anything from anywhere. So I won’t have to curse myself because I forgot to manually upload the new TV on the Radio album to my device, or worry when I’m in the mood for some Handel’s Messiah and think about how I used to need a cable, a laptop, and an entire damn app just to listen to a song away from home.

All my music from anywhere? That’s so worth singing about. Let’s hope it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.