The idea behind a 'cloud' is that instead of storing data and files locally, on one's hard drive, one's data is stored entirely remotely. One of the advantages of storing in the cloud is that if one's computer were to break, crash or get wiped, the data would be unharmed and immediately accessible. Additionally, the cloud allows for uniform access among platforms, say one one's smart phone, tablet, or computer. The third benefit of the cloud is that files don't have to be stored directly on mobile devices to be heard (that's what your mp3 player is for).
The cloud is not limited to music, but music has taken the center stage as the popularly intended use for the cloud. Similar mobile streaming services were available, like AudioGalaxy
, but since files are not stored on remote servers, the originating source of the files, one's computer, must be functioning simultaneously to stream the files.
When purchasing music digitally, I tend to prefer Amazon. It is always the first place I look before resorting to iTunes, mostly because I prefer mp3 format and having to manually convert every iTunes purchase gets frustrating.
One way I benefit from Cloud Player is that my purchases are immediately added to my Cloud Drive, ready to stream. The Cloud Drive, upon registering, allows for 5GB of storage, but any album purchase through Amazon MP3 grants a free upgrade to 20GB for a year. Purchases made after registering for Cloud Drive and Cloud Player do not take away from the storage allotment, so the 20GB is entirely for files uploaded from one's computer. The only disappointing aspect about this is that Amazon does not take users' purchase histories into account and place earlier mp3s in the drive automatically for them, making users manually upload older purchases, subsequently utilizing some of the 20GB allotment.
The Amazon MP3 Uploader program is not bad. Users can search their file directories and easily check the boxes next to the files they want songs uploaded from. Between the two, I much prefer Amazon's uploader to Google's, and I'll explain why in the Music Beta section below.
Amazon's uploader gives more flexibilty to selection
When accessing Cloud Player from one's web browser, in my case Google Chrome, one simply has to log in to their Amazon account. The interface looks about like one would expect, but once you start playing music and want to pause or skip a song you suddenly realize that the controls are at the bottom of the page and you have to scroll to get to them. This is the one thing that bothers me most about Cloud Player for web.
Controls are found at the bottom of the screen after scrolling, not immediately accessible
The other mildly frustrating challenge to the web interface is how many times you have to click to get to a specific song from the 'Artist' page. Starting an album from the beginning is one click away, but without drop down menus it get s a little buried, and then backing one's way out is a whole other adventure.
Navigation requires more effort
The mobile interface in Android is also okay. It also suffers from buried access through plenty of taps, followed by several more to return to the main selection. The widget functions simply enough for a quick pause or quick start, so I'm not displeased.
Overall, Amazon's Cloud Drive is most handy for preexisting tech-savvy customers. It provides the benefit of access immediately on purchase. Both the web and mobile player interfaces could use a little tweaking.
As a loyal user of Google's many services, I am always excited to try out anything new they offer. I hadn't realized till after the launch that I needed to submit my email for an invitation, but I proceeded to immediately and received an invitation not too long after.
Google did not successfully obtain contracts
for vending music, so they settled on launching with basic hosting services, user self-supplied. While Amazon's functions in a way to draw more customers, Google perhaps had the benefit of focusing more on user experience. Users are allowed a whopping
20k track upload limit, which is more than most people will ever need.
Upon registering, Google asks which genres you are into and gifts you a bundle of free tracks (and not just any tracks, legit radio hits by well known artists). When it comes to uploading your own files, however, the file uploader interface is not very accommodating if one wants to be selective of which folders are uploaded. If everything one wants is in one central folder then there's no problem, but if you are more selective like myself you are forced to enter individual file paths. This is where a collapsible selection would come in handy.
All or nothing. Not ideal for those who wish to be more selective.
Beyond the uploading experience however, Google did quite a fine job with both their web and mobile interfaces. Nothing is off screen and navigation is smooth and easy. In mobile, navigation is collapsible and decently responsive. I easily prefer Music Beta's interface to Cloud Player.
Clean layout, accessible controls, smooth navigation
Once again, users can scrobble from Music Beta in web by using a Chrome extension
, but scrobbling isn't available in mobile.
Amazon's Cloud Drive is most beneficial to current customers. It's uploader interface is satisfactorily functional, but it's user interface leaves much to be desired. Google Music Beta disappoints only from an uploader interface stance, but is still 'invite only'.