Monday, 27 June 2011

Comparing Music Services Apple iCloud vs. Google Music Beta vs. Amazon Cloud Drive

A huge difference of iCloud's music capabilities is that you can't play songs from within a Web browser (at least as far as we have seen so far) as you can with both Amazon and Google's offerings. You'll either need an iOS device or iTunes running on a computer. True, this does include Windows PCs running iTunes, but forget any non-Apple tablets or phones. This lack of Web access is just less flexible. Nor can you stream music from its online storage—the music must be fully downloaded to play.  
 Apple’s new iTunes with iCloud will certainly be a tough one to beat. iTunes already leads far ahead of the pack when it comes to music downloads, and now it has full record label support plus a unit iTunes Match feature. The feature lets you scan and match your music to Apple’s library for music syncing rather than requiring you to upload your entire collection in order to stream it.

it costs $24.99 a year for this service.
Amazon’s Cloud Player was the first one out the door, but functions mainly as a digital music locker. The giant online retailer chose to forgo licensing deals with record labels and therefore cannot sell songs directly via its Cloud Drive. But, they can sell songs in their MP3 Store, from where you must download the song and then upload it to your Cloud Drive.

Google’s Music Beta works like a digital music locker much like Amazon’s Cloud Player. Without record label support, Google cannot directly sell or distribute music through its Music Beta service. Instead, users much upload their existing music collection to the service for streaming.

 Major drawbacks

Amazon Cloud Drive Probably the biggest draw back of the Amazon service is the slow setup. When we tested it, the service took some patience and persistence to get going after several crashes. After that comes hours upon hours, possibly several days, of uploading your music library. Once your music is in there, playlists you once had will be gone and there’s no way to rate any of your songs in your library. If you aren’t an avid Amazon purchaser, holding a large music library in Cloud Drive is going to cost you a hefty amount. Users are also unable to edit any song metadata.
Google Music Beta
While we were generally happy with Music Beta’s performance, Google has some big kinks to work out. With this kind of service, the slow upload time is going to be a pain, but it’s pretty unavoidable. However, Google needs to give users more control over which songs get uploaded into the cloud, instead of a simple two-option choice between everything in the iTunes folder or everything in another folder. There is no way to purchase any music through Music Beta (though you can choose to have new iTunes purchases automatically uploaded), which will be a drawback for some users. A forthcoming price tag (unless we’re lucky) could also be a drawback.
Apple iCloud
The biggest evident drawback of iCloud, or what we know about it, is that there won’t be any access from the Web. As far as we know, users won’t be able to access their libraries of songs by simply opening up a browser window. This will no doubt alienate users who don’t use all Apple devices, but perhaps that’s part of Steve Jobs’ strategy.
I predict that Apple will steal its competitors thunder with its great offering despite the fact that it does not offer any streaming service or access from a Web Browser . Despite these limitations it still has a lot to offer and will give Google and Amazon a run for its money.
The most powerful approach of all, though, is probably to use these things in combination. Use the free 25GB from SkyDrive for your photos, Google for your docs and mail (or perhaps more Windows Live) and Amazon for videos seeing as there’s no file size limit. Dropbox is the one to use for convenience. It’s the best syncing tool of the lot and given that storage on the service isn’t cheap, use it as just that – a tool.

Possibly the best advice of all is to use them all. Use them all up until the point where you have to pay for them. That way you’ll max out your storage and minimise your cost but perhaps use each service for just one type of media. That way you might actually be able to keep track of it all.
A central difference of Apple's iCloud versus the others is that it's not just for music: It takes over all the former MobileMe's functions—email, contacts, calendar—along with backing up and syncing iOS device photos, app data, and iWork documents. Thus ends the stormy story of the MobileMe service, which even Steve Jobs noted at WWDC was "not our finest hour." This comparison, though will concern itself primarily with the music aspect of iCloud, iTunes in the Cloud.

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