Google Announces Web Music Service, Movie Rentals and More

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Google’s 2011 developer conference kicked off on Tuesday, May 10. Did you see the live blog? It’s O.K. if you didn’t. I’m not one of those How dare you not read everything I write! kind of writers. I just sort of fell into this whole blogging thing a few years back after my career in modern dance was cut short due to my lack of talent, drive, ambition, coordination and so forth.

So here’s what we’ve got.

Android Is Converging

Android on a tablet? Android on a phone? Soon it won’t matter — the devices will all run the same Android operating system known as Ice Cream Sandwich. “Our goal with Ice Cream Sandwich is to deliver one operating system that works everywhere, regardless of device,” says Google. That’s a good thing, as Android has a problem with “fragmentation” nowadays. More on that later.

Android Movies

You’ll be able to rent a movie from the Android Market and stream it to any connected Android phone or tablet. Movie rentals will start at $1.99 and be viewable for 30 days (or 24 hours once you hit the play button). If you own a Motorola Xoom tablet, you can get movies on May 10. Phones running Android 2.2 and up will get access to movies in a couple of weeks. You can also rent movies directly from the Android Market on the Web starting on May 10.

Google Music Beta

Google’s long-rumored online music service is finally here. Well, almost here. It’s being rolled out in a private beta for U.S. residents (click here to sign up). You can upload as many as 20,000 songs to the service and then play them back from any connected Android device.

The service will automatically download frequently played tracks to your phone or tablet too. There’s also a feature called Instant Mix that creates intelligent playlists, much like Apple’s Genius feature on iTunes.

You can install a program called Music Manager on your Windows or Mac, which will automatically keep any tracks added to iTunes or Windows Media Player synchronized with Google Music, so it should be a fairly hands-off process. Google Music will be free while in beta — no word on future pricing.

Check out the video at the top of this post for more.

Devices to Be Upgraded to New Versions of Android Faster

Part of the problem with the current state of Android is that a new version with new features will get released, but your phone won’t get the new version for months. Google’s now working on making sure that devices in the future will be quickly upgraded to the latest version.

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