Google is making it easier for music lovers to build their online music collections by introducing a new service that automatically scans the songs stored on your computer and copies them to the cloud, where you can access them from your mobile devices for free.
The company unveiled the new feature, using the Google Play Music Manager, in a Dec. 18 post on Google+. Users can access the music collection wherever they have Internet access.
"Traveling this season and want to make sure your music goes with you? Add up to 20,000 songs from your music collection to Google Play and stream it to your Android devices and your computer, anywhere you go," the post reported. "Our new music matching feature gets your songs into your online music library on Google Play much faster. We'll scan your collection and quickly rebuild it in the cloud—all for free. And we'll stream your music back to you at up to 320 K bps."
The Music Manager service began in November in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Australia, and is now available to U.S. customers.
For users, the service means they can minimize the songs they must manually upload to the cloud on their own since Google Play will find them and make sure they are in a user's online collection automatically.
Existing users of the Google Play Music feature won't have to re-upload their files to have them matched, according to Google. Instead, over the next few months, the company will automatically match up those existing music libraries.
To access the service, users must download and install the Music Manager desktop application and follow a few steps to scan and organize their music collection. Users will be able to upload music from their iTunes library, Windows Media Player library, My Music folder or other folders. The bandwidth available for uploading songs can also be adjusted by the user, who can also monitor the progress of songs as they are uploading, according to Google.
The service provides installation instructions for Windows, Mac and Linux users.
Google Music was launched in November 2011 to allow users to upload up to 20,000 songs formatted in iTunes or Windows to the search provider's cloud for free.
Dozens of users posted their reactions to the announcement on the Google+ announcement page.
"This is great—I can't live without it now—but the matching process doesn't quite seem to cover a lot of my songs (even those that you actually sell online and I already have)," wrote David M. G. Taborda. "It would also be good to be able to synchronize with your library on the hard drive as I find +Google Play much better when it comes to editing metadata and organizing libraries. All in all, 5/5—excellent service!"
Another user, Tom Sutherland, wrote, "I'm already using this in the UK—fantastic service, keeps all your playlists from iTunes (if you have iTunes on your PC) and automatically uploads new tracks that you add to iTunes. I can hardly believe it's free. Amazon charges £22 a year for a similar (not quite as good) service."
Nate Cress wrote, "Awesome! Music matching will really help me out. FYI: Play Music isn't available everywhere, so make sure to pin your favorite albums on your Android Device for offline listening if you plan on traveling to a country that doesn't have access to Play Music yet."