March 7, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Google Music was previewed at Google I/O 2010 as a future product that would sell music downloads and provide storage for personal libraries. After 9 months of waiting on the future to land in the Android Market, Android fans appear to be inching closer to a Google Music cloud-based syncing solution.
Members of the XDA Developers Forum have discovered that the previously leaked “Honeycomb” Music app for Android appears to suddenly support syncing music to the cloud. It’s important to note that this is not the Music app from Honeycomb tablets, no one knows exactly where the cloud is, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to manage your music library. However, multiple users have reported that their rooted phones suddenly began syncing to an unknown location and playing music even when the SD card was replaced.
Google VP of Engineering Vic Gundotra previously demoed an app for Android that could stream a user’s personal music library from the web. That’s what XDA forum members are experiencing provided that their phones are rooted and the app shown at Google I/O last year is installed. Read more about this at XDA if you’re willing to take an adventure.
I previously had this app installed but the sync solution never worked. The sudden activation, while still mysterious and unconfirmed, makes me think Google is internally testing the service before launching to consumers later this year. Google Music should have launched previously, but rumors suggest that Google has been unable to reach a deal with record labels and licensing companies. Spotify has faced similar issues in its attempt to provide service in the U.S.
Another sign, though dimmer than cloud sync being turned on, is that http://market.android.com/music redirects to the Android Market web store rather than a 404 error page. This was the same precursor to the recently launched Google Books Android Market website. Either Google thinks it will soon be able to launch a music service or the company put up a placeholder redirect page very early.
There are already music streaming apps for Android like AudioGalaxy, Gmote, and Subsonic, but I’m more interested in an official service from Google. My guess is that Google Music will offer large storage options, multiple access points, and competitive rates. Despite challenges to battery life, I’d be willing to embrace streaming for the chance to have my entire music library available rather than just the 6 gigs I can currently spare on my microSD card.