Both services are free (to start).
Google: Required uploading all my music to its servers. Free. In my case the upload of 2000ish songs took three days of background uploading. I could still use my PC with no apparent slowdown of web access during that time. Google has a limit of 20,000 songs for each user.
Apple: Past and new music purchases from iTunes will be available on all your iOS devices from the iCloud. Free. Other music of yours (not originally from iTunes) will only require the uploading of songs Apple doesn't have a match for in the vast iTunes database. Songs in your collection it knows about will be available from that collection without any physical upload from you. For just $24.99 a year. Apple calls this iTunes Match. Limit of 25,000 songs. Your songs will be available in (your) iTunes on your PC or Mac, and on any iPad1 or iPad2 or iPhone (3GS, 4), or iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation) registered to the same iTunes account.
Basically, both services are offering to make your music available to you no matter where you are or what device you are using.
Apple puts a few restrictions on that though:
- You have to be using (your) iTunes (so much for the Post-PC era) if you are at a PC,
- Older iPhone and iPod Touches won't have access.
- No accessing your music on a friend's computer,
- No using any work computer you aren't allowed to install iTunes on.
- No Linux PCs either.
- Songs Apple provides will all be limited to 256kb
- I can access my music on ANY WEB BROWSER, simply by going to Google.Music.Beta and logging into my account.
- There is also the Google Music app for Android devices which runs on anything running Android 2.1 or higher.
- Android devices running anything lower can still access the music via their web browsers.
- It works via Safari on both iPads, all iPhones, and every generation of iPod Touch.
- It even works using the web browser on my Zune HD.
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