Google is officially in the music business.
At an event in Los Angeles, Google announced Google Music, its cloud-storage and music-sales service especially optimized for Android devices. The service features an all-new MP3 store built into the Android Market, a music discovery option that relies on your friends' recommendations and machine-listening that analyzes your collection, and a cloud-storage locker for your music, which holds up to 20,000 songs for free and can be streamed from any desktop or Android device.
The desktop service is available to all users in the United States right now at music.google.com. The Google Music Android app should be available for all Android smartphones and tablets in the coming days for everyone with Android 2.2 and above. There was no mention of iOS devices like iPhones or iPads, though Google did note that the desktop Google Music Manager is available on Windows, Mac and Linux computers. (Beware, however, as the Google Music Beta was heavily criticized as taking weeks to upload a library worth of songs.)
Google also opened up a Google Music store, similar to iTunes, which the company says will be driven by musical recommendations. There are two kind of recommendations up front in the store: First, recommendations from Google's "music geeks" about what's hot on the music scene; and second, a machine-listening recommendation engine, which analyzes your entire collection and suggests which songs and albums the user may enjoy. The Android Market's new music store is already open. (Check it out here.)
T-Mobile customers will also be able to charge song purchases to their phone bills, a first for mobile music purchasing, Google says.
Google Music also comes with deep social media integration: Google Music users can share songs with friends on Google+ and Twitter, with each friend on Google+ able to get one free listen per share. Facebook appears to be left in the dust.
Another notable announcement from the Google Music event was the ability to "pin" certain songs and albums from your cloud onto your Android device for offline listening: The company did not immediately specify how many songs it would allow users to pin.
The announcement of Google Music with full Android Market has been a long time coming. In May of this year, Google launched Google Music Beta, a cloud-based music storage service that allowed users to upload up to 20,000 songs into their Google music locker and play them from the cloud for free. It was available as a beta service and by invitation only and now, 6 months later, it emerges from beta, still free.
The service faces stiff competition from several well-entrenched music-selling and streaming opponents, including Apple's iTunes and iTunes Match, Amazon MP3 and Amazon Cloud Player, and upstart freemium services like Spotify and Rdio.
For now, however, Google Music is open and ready for business. Anyone with a Google account can upload their libraries at music.google.com and check out the Google Music store on the Android Market.
Google also announced that it had partnered with a slew of music labels, including giants Sony, Universal and EMI.
The service will also allow artists to upload and sell their content to other users.
To see what else Google announced, take a look at Engadget's live blog of the Google Music event.
Check out screenshots of the new service (below).