Google Play music service adds scan-and-match feature

Google Tuesday updated its Google Play music-streaming capabilities just in time for the holiday travel season.

In a post on its Google + page, Google Play announced a new music=matching feature, which the company says will allow speedier transfer of your music library to the Google Play service. That's because your music files won't be physically transferring at all.

After scanning your music library, Google Play instantly makes matching tracks in its music store available to stream to all of your internet-connected computers and Android devices, wherever they may be. While this feature has been available to European users for about a month now, people in the United States will be able to try it out for themselves starting Tuesday.

Similar to Apple and Amazon offerings but free

The new service is similar to Apple's iTunes Match service and Amazon's own Cloud Player, which each offer streams from matched songs in their own respective music stores. Both services, however, come with a $25 per year subscription, making Google Play's free service all the more intriguing.

At this point, those who have been using Google's music service since it was first released under the Google Music moniker in November 2011 might be asking themselves, "So what exactly is different?" The boiled-down answer is convenience. There is simply considerably less wait between purchasing or ripping music and being able to stream it to your devices. Other than that, nothing about people's experience with the service should change, according to Gina Johnson, Communications Manager at Google.

"There really won't be a way to tell it's even happened," Johnson said.

Johnson also added that while new users will get the feature from the start, those who have already been using the service will gradually receive the scan-and-match update from Google over time.

One other feature to note lies in each service's streaming-quality capabilities. Apple and Amazon each say they offer streams at 256 kbps, regardless of your own copy's quality, while Google says it offers streams up to 320 kbps.

Of course there's no guarantee a specific song will be available to stream at that fidelity, but music lovers who have shied away from streaming services in the past due to quality concerns should feel less hesitant about trying out Google's service.

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