In a recent announcement, Google revealed news of a new matching feature that will scan a music collection and rebuild it in the cloud for free. Users can scan up to 20,000 songs from their music collection to Google Play and stream it to Android devices or computers from anywhere.
This is pretty close to Apple’s iTunes Match feature that scans a user’s music library and matches it with tracks available on the iTunes Store. Whereas Google’s feature is free, iTunes Match costs $24.99 a year. Apple’s song limit, though, is 25,000, which is 5,000 more tracks than what Google’s service allows.
The Google Music service will stream music back to users at 320 kbps. As of now, Google Play has a limit of 300 megabytes per individual song and there aren’t any options to purchase more storage to go beyond the 20,000 tracks.
When iTunes Match was first announced by Steve Jobs, one of the biggest things he pointed out was the time it took competing services from Google and Amazon to upload extensive music libraries. Since then, Amazon’s Cloud Player has added a similar feature to iTunes Match’s scan and match functionality in July. Amazon now lets users import up to 250 songs for free in its Cloud Player with a similarly-priced premium subscription that allows users to import up to 250,000 songs, which is 10 times more than iTunes Match.
Amazon has released an official Cloud Player app for the iPhone, iPod and iPad, but Google hasn’t yet, though there are some third-party apps available on the App Store.
The fact that Google’s match and scan service is free will definitely make it a competing feature to Apple’s paid subscription services of iTunes Match. That said, nothing is entirely free when it comes to Google considering their advertising model.