Today, Google unveiled a music service that allows users to listen to unlimited songs for $9.99 a month, challenging smaller companies like Pandora and Spotify in the market for streaming music.
The new service was announced during Google’s annual developers’ conference in San Francisco ahead of what is rumored to be a similar announcement by Apple, which pioneered online music purchases with iTunes
The service, described as “radio without rules”, allows users to listen to millions of tracks in addition to the ones they already own. The service lets users customize song selections from 22 genres, ranging from Jazz to Indie music, stream individual playlists, or listen to a curated, radio-like stream that can be tweaked.
Unlike several of its rivals there is no free-to-use option beyond an initial 30-day trial period. Users will be expected to pay the $9.99 monthly charge once the 30 day trial period has elapsed. Early adopters are being offered a discounted rate of $7.99-a-month.
The service will be launched in U.S. first, before being rolled out to several other countries.
Other announcements made at the conference include a new cross-platform messaging app called Google Hangouts which allows users to have video chats, send text messages and swap pictures between Android and iOS devices as well its Chrome web browser and adding a voice-powered search facility to the Chrome browser.
Not to be left behind is Google Maps which gets a major refresh. The web browser version has been rewritten to personalise results, highlighting locations the firm believes the user will be most interested in. These are based on the person’s previous use of Google’s services and the reviews their friends have posted on its Google+ social network. The firm’s Android and iOS Map apps are also to get more features including live details of reported road accidents alongside suggested changes to a motorist’s route.
As for Video games, developers were told new video game features were being added to Android. The new features include the abilities to synchronise a player’s progress across different devices and to compare scores on leaderboards managed via its Google+ social network. The leaderboard feature will be offered to gamers playing on Apple’s iOS devices or using web-based titles.
In the hardware department, Google revealed it is to sell a version of Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 handset running the basic Android system without the South Korean firm’s TouchWiz user interface installed on top.