Google’s new mobile assault: streaming music and improved maps

Alex Walls
May 17, 2013

Google has launched a new assault on the mobile marketplace at its developers conference, Google I/O.

Among a host of redesigns to Google+ and Chrome for mobile, Google launched its new monthly music subscription service, the cumbersomely named Google Play Music All Access, the technology giants answer to Spotify.

The service costs $US9.99 a month ( £6.55 roughly) which is equivalent to Spotify’s Premium service, with a free one month trial (or $US7.99 per month if you start your trial by June 30th).  It allows users to create a radio station from any song or artist, browse recommendations, or genres, combine Play Music’s collection with your own and store 20,000 songs in the cloud free.

Streaming from any Android device, Google had signed licensing deals with music companies such as Sony and Universal, the Guardian reported, and stole a march on Apple, which was considering its own streaming service.

Android product management vice president Hugo Barra said  Google reported it had passed 48 billion app downloads, with 2.5 billion in the last month, swiftly catching up to Apple, which passed 50 billion this week.  The company said 900 million devices running Android had now been activated, up from 400 million last year and 100 million two years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The Chrome redesigns for the more than 750 million active mobile users included faster video streaming performance, faster payments and experiments to make a more immersive mobile experience, such as the interactive A Journey Through Middle Earth, Google said.

Other announcements included the next gen look of Google Maps, including customised maps which display information useful to the user, such as friend’s reviews of a coffee shop on the route or highlighting a library if your previous Internet activity has shown you’re into such things.  Google describes it as being “like a friend drawing you a map to her favorite restaurant, with only the roads and landmarks you need to get there, the new Google Maps instantly changes to highlight information that matters most.”

The more you use the maps, the more information it gathers about your habits (…) and the various images Google has to offer  have  been  collected  into a carousel for you to view about a particular spot.  There’s also the 3D Google Earth View, which renders cities in 3D and even allows you to zoom right out, to view Earth in all its beautiful, blue, 3D glory.

And lastly, Google have said they’re bringing a “special” Samsung Galaxy S4, exclusively for Google Play, to sit alongside its Nexus phones and tablets.  Google said the device featured hardware from Samsung and software and services from Google, including the user experience found on the Nexus devices.  The new S4 would be available from June 26th with no contract from $US649 in the US ( £426).

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