Did you really think Google was going to sit idly by and let Apple’s iTunes dominate the music experience forever? Not a chance.
The internet search giant is taking a major step forward in its expected bid to become a legitimate rival to iTunes.
According to CNET
, who cites “music industry sources”, Google Music is being tested internally at Google. These sources also said that the app described in this recent XDA Developers forum
, was a “working version of the service, but that the final version could be “much different” than the one recently leaked.
The lucky find by an XDA Developers forum member has suggested that Google's development on its music service has proceeded much faster than many would have expected it to. In a forum post made two weeks ago, the poster claims that he was playing around with a custom Honeycomb ROM for his smartphone, only to find out that the ROM contained a fully working version of Google Music preloaded, complete with cloud syncing capabilities.
According to the CNET report, sources close to the search giant have revealed that Google is already well into the next step of the testing process. Known as 'dog-fooding', it refers to employees being tasked to try or test out a new product or service in order for developers to gather data on how the service might function under typical real world circumstances. Add both findings together, and most users will probably come to the same conclusion - that Google's upcoming online music service is almost ready, and it is only a matter of time before Google Music goes live.
Google Music is widely expected to offer streaming music service that enables users to access their content from any and all connected devices. To me, being the music junkie that I am, this sounds like a godsend. I can’t wait for the day that my music collection, in its entirety, will be cloud-based and available to me on all of my internet connected devices. I also look forward to some healthy competition for iTunes.
Online music sales have been largely dominated by Apple. Competition from a powerful content provider such as Google ought to give iTunes a run for its money, creating more options for all of us. Unfortunately, it seems that Google has its work cut out for them, as CNET's report claims that industry players close to the search giant have identified content availability as the biggest problem faced by Google Music. This is due fundamental differences in Apple's and Google's approach to digital music: unlike Apple, Google is reportedly negotiating with record companies for rights to all music synced to Google's cloud servers, and not just tracks made available for download via Google Music. Sources inside the music industry say Google would have likely introduced the service long ago if not for the negotiations that reportedly continue between the internet behemoth and top record labels.
The music industry, however, is more than eager for an iTunes rival to enter the market. The prospect of an iTunes competitor of Google’s caliber “has music industry executives giddy.”
Needless to say, record companies are understandably wary of Google's unorthodox proposal; this has resulted in delays over content availability for Google Music. Still, one should not overlook the fact that Google has had experience in digital music, and it is entirely possible that Google's approach might come off as the better solution as opposed to Apple's iTunes.
For music lovers like me, we are eagerly waiting to see how this all plays out. How about you? What would you like to see from Google Music that iTunes does not offer?
Part of Apple’s new software announcement last week was the integration of Apple’s iTunes Ping into the newest version of iTunes. iTunes Ping, commonly referred to as simply “Ping” is a social network that has been integrated into the largely popular music software. Described by Steve Jobs as "Twitter and Facebook meet iTunes," Ping aims to let the already-existing and rather massive audience of iTunes users “friend” each other, stay up-to-date on their friends' musical tastes, and like/comment on things found around iTunes. Another Ping feature allows users to rate bands and songs.
The main purpose of the social networking aspect of iTunes is to allow users to discover new music, follow artists, as well as see up to date comments posted by their friends. This aspect of it, is fairly similar to a Facebook or a Twitter account, but keeps all of your music information within a software program that most people already use fairly often, and some people even use daily. What is also great about Ping, is that similar to Facebook and Twitter, Ping is accessible on the go, with Ping being available in iTunes for both iPod Touches, and iPhones.
Ping will also create a custom chart showing music selections based on those followed. Basically, you can follow your friends or favorite artists and see what kind of music they are listening to. The actual activity stream consists of your friend connections, purchases, comments, and concert plans. Every time a song or album is mentioned, a Buy button is displayed, and this offers additional drop-down choices for Like, Post, Gift This Album, Add to Wish List, Tell a Friend, Copy Link, and Share on Facebook or Twitter. In a demonstration during the official release announcement, Jobs showed how users can also post videos and photos to the service, as well as search concert information and tag concerts attended.
Getting started with Ping is easy. Ping requires iTunes 10 and by default Ping is not activated. Apple must have learned from all the complaints about Facebook's privacy, by making users turn this feature on themselves. Once you install the latest version of iTunes, you can find Ping in the iTunes Store menu bar and click on Ping to set up your account. Once your Ping account is created you can then find Ping in the navigation bar to the left. For a step by step tutorial on how to activate your Ping account click here.
There are over 160 million iTunes users, all of whom are able to sign up for the new Ping service. Given the shear numbers, I can only assume Ping will be a hit, but only time will tell.
Apple has sent out invitations to the press for a 'special event' scheduled on September 1st at the Yerba Buena Center for Arts Theater in San Francisco. The text in the invite offered no hint of what might be in store, but there has been plenty of speculation leading up to it. Many rumor mongers bet that Apple will introduce the new iPod Touch with camera and/or a cheaper Apple TV box unit. From the buzz over the web and in the technology world, it looks like it might be more of an iPod related event.
The invites sent out contain image of an acoustic guitar with the Apple logo cut out on it. It is fairly clear that Apple would be releasing something related to music. Among the new products and services rumored to be on tap:
- A new iPod touch, possible with a higher-res screen and one or two cameras
- A new Apple TV, priced at $99 and built around iOS and the iTunes store
- A 99-cent TV rental service, subject to the agreement of the TV studios
- A cloud-based iTunes service that makes use of the new data center Apple has been building in North Carolina.
Earlier this year, two iPod touch prototypes with camera were spotted on eBay.
Heavy buzz is being created about the new Apple TV box that would be lighter, cheaper and won't have any hard drive. This complements rumors about the new cloud-based iTunes service. Any or all of this could be wrong, of course. I guess we’ll all have to wait for the announcements from this special event scheduled 12pm Central on September 1.