Google Launches New Music Streaming Service All Access

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Google launched a subscription music streaming service on Wednesday, stealing ahead of its arch-rival Apple and mounting a threat to other providers such as Spotify.

The service, whose full name is the somewhat cumbersome Google Play Music All Access, was unveiled at Google I/O, the tech giant's annual developer conference. Chris Yerga, Google's engineering director, said users would be able to stream music from a vast library on any device using the Android operating system.

In the US, All Access will cost $9.99 a month after a 30-day free trial. Spotify Premium, a similar service, costs $9.99 in the US. Users who sign up by 30 June will get a reduced price of $7.99 per month. There was no immediate announcement of pricing in other territories.

"This is radio without rules. It's as 'leanback' as you want to, or as interactive as you want to," said Yerga. Users will be able to search for an artist and add tracks to their library. A "listen now" feature will create a mix of favourite artists or genres based on previously listened to songs.

Google has signed licensing deals with a number of music companies including Sony, Universal and Warner, and millions of songs will be available for the service, which will go live from Wednesday.

The announcement comes as Apple considers a streaming music service. It has also been holding talks with music labels. The tech giants have become increasingly interested in subscription services thanks to the popularity of Spotify. The Swedish company has more than 6m paying subscribers and more than 24m active users in 28 countries.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the UK-based BPI, representing record labels, said: "Streaming is the fastest growing part of the £330m digital music sector in Britain, with over than a million paying subscribers already and millions more enjoying free and ad-supported music. The entry of a player with the reach of Google will persuade many more consumers to experience having millions of songs to play instantly on their phone, tablet or PC."

The music service was greeted with loud applause by developers who began lining up to attend the sold-out Google I/O at 5am Wednesday morning. The announcement was made after Google revealed that more than 900m devices using Android had now been activated, up from 400m a year ago.

The 900m figure does not include tens of millions of smartphones in China which also use Android's basic software – called "Android Open Source Platform" – but do not connect to Google's services, and so can't contact its "activation" servers.

Google unveiled new tools for developers including the ability to track people's physical activity when they are carrying an Android device, a move that will usher in a new generation of fitness applications.

Hugo Barra, vice-president of Android product management, said 48bn Android apps had now been installed worldwide.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Dominic Rushe in San Francisco and Charles Arthur in London, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 15th May 2013 19.25 Europe/London

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