Amazon takes on Apple with cloud-based music storage

29/03/2011

Amazon.com has unveiled an online service that would enable its customers to securely store and access music through their smartphones and computers. Amazon said the new service would allow customers to play music on any Android, Windows and Apple devices. The company said customers would initially be provided with 5 GB of free storage, which can eventually be upgraded to 20 GB with the purchase of any MP3 album.

29/03/2011

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Amazon Cloud Service enables customers to securely store music on the company's web servers instead of local hard drives, a type of technology generically known as "cloud computing."

At the same time, Amazon is unveiling companion services, Cloud Player for Web and the mobile Cloud Player for Android, to stream the songs you are storing in Cloud Drive to a computer or to a Google Android smartphone or tablet.

As with any standard media player, Cloud Player lets you play, pause, skip, shuffle, repeat and adjust the volume. You can also create new playlists and display music by song, album or genre.

Songs land on Cloud Drive in one of two ways. You can arrange it so that all the music purchased through Amazon’s existing MP3 store is saved directly to the Cloud Drive. Amazon has about 15 million tracks for sale.

Using separate software, you can also upload music to Cloud Drive that you currently store on your PC or Mac (but not phone) — even tracks that reside in iTunes. Amazon automatically creates playlists for the latest purchases and latest uploads.

But you won’t be able to upload songs with DRM or Digital Rights Management restrictions. And tracks must also be in the MP3 or AAC file formats; Amazon doesn’t support Windows Media files nor ringtones, podcasts, audiobooks or other non-music audio files.

As a starting point, Amazon gives you 5 gigabytes of free storage in Cloud Drive that under an initial promotion is automatically bumped up to 20GB if you purchase any Amazon MP3 album..

In the Cloud, you can store roughly 200 to 250 songs per gigabyte, depending on the length and quality of the recordings. Songs are stored and streamed back at their original “bit rate” or quality and sounded fine in my tests.

What’s more, any new music you buy and store in the cloud from Amazon’s MP3 Store doesn’t count against your annual limits. You can buy additional storage if you need it — annual costs range from $20 for 20 gigabytes to $1,000 for 1,000 GB.

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