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from the L.A. Times

Google unveils Music Beta, online music service, for testing

Body_1a As expected, Google Inc. rolled out a new online music service called Music Beta at the annual I/O developers conference Tuesday in San Francisco.

Music Beta is available through invitation only for a testing phase (to request an invitation, click here). Users will be able to upload their jams, create playlists and listen to their music via the Web or on a smartphone or tablet with the music app available free from the Android Market (click here). Recently played songs and selected albums will also be available offline, according to the Music Beta site.

Google, like Amazon's online music service, has yet to acquire licenses from major record labels. So far no music can be purchased directly through Music Beta, which currently functions like a "passive" locker system that allows users to listen only to music they have uploaded. With licenses, Google and other online music service operators could give users access to tunes stored in central servers and other expanded offerings for smartphones, tablets and on computer browsers.

The system ratchets up the competition among Google, Amazon and Apple to offer music storage and portability for the next generation. Apple is already negotiating with top record labels to acquire licenses to beef up its own online music service.

Amazon's service, launched March 28, allows users to store their music library into an Amazon Cloud Drive (which can store other types of files and data too) and play back their music using Amazon's Cloud Player, which is available on the Web and in the form of an app for Google Android phones and tablets.

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-- Shan Li

Photo: The Music Beta service on a computer. Credit: Google

 
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