It’s been a good month for fans of Amazon and Android. Last week the Amazon Appstore was opened, and this week sees the launch of Amazon Cloud Player for Android, an app which lets you store your personal music collection in the cloud and access it on your phone, without having to connect to your computer’s library.
We’ve been expecting to see similar technologies from either Apple or Google for a long time, but there are still no clear signs on the horizon. So, has Amazon scooped the big two, or should we keep waiting for the manufacturers to get around to building their own services?
When You Say “All Your Music…”
A service like this will live or die depending on how much freedom users are given. If it stores “all of your music (but under very heavy and specific restrictions)”, that’s not very attractive.
You’re probably aware that Amazon has its own MP3 store, which allows you to buy music through the website as well as through apps like Shazam. You’ll be relieved to know that Amazon doesn’t restrict you to songs you’ve bought through their service; any MP3 or AAC files can be stored.
Unfortunately, file types other than this are not supported — though there are plenty of tools that let you convert songs to MP3 and AAC — and any tracks with DRM (like songs bought on iTunes a few years ago) cannot be uploaded. Amazon does not impose any DRM of their own, though.
Also, this is most definitely a music player, rather than an audio player: podcasts and audio books are not supported.
How Many Tracks?
You’re given 5GB of space for free, which will store about a thousand songs (over two days’ worth of non-stop listening). For reference, that’s larger than the SD card that comes with the HTC Desire.
If that’s not enough for you, you can buy more space; the next rung is 20GB at $20/year, and the pricing plans go up to 1000GB for $1,000/year. Unfortunately, the upgrades are only available in certain countries at the moment.
In a bit of smart marketing, Amazon will give you a free upgrade to 20GB for simply buying an MP3 album from their store at any point between now and the end of the year. Plus, any Amazon MP3s you own don’t count against your storage space. With this and the Amazon Appstore that opened last week, it looks like Amazon are moving in on the territories of both Google and Apple.
How to Get It
Here’s the bad news: though Amazon Cloud Drive is available to everyone, Amazon Cloud Player is currently only available in the USA. Still, it’s only been out a couple of days; I’m sure we’ll see it spread very soon.
To upload your music, open the Amazon Cloud Player and click “Upload to your Cloud Drive”. It’ll install the Uploader to your computer, and then scan your hard drive for iTunes and Windows Media Player playlists. Once done, you’ll be able to upload specific playlists, or your entire library. Your playlists will be retained, so you don’t have to worry about reorganising all your songs. If you’ve got any music that’s not in an iTunes or Windows Media Player library, you’ll have to upload them manually, unfortunately.
Once you’ve selected everything, just hit “Start upload” and wait. Eventually, all your music will be in the cloud, ready for you to download to your phone or play any PC or Mac that’s connected to the Internet.
All pretty simple. What’s taking Google and Apple so long?