Google debuts movies and music services

@CNNMoneyTech May 10, 2011: 5:09 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO(CNNMoney) -- Google kicked off its annual I/O developers conference in San Francisco on Tuesday by announcing new cloud-based music and movie services to compete with the likes of Apple and Amazon.

Music Beta, a new service from Google (GOOG, Fortune 500), will allow users to store 20,000 songs on Google's servers. Users will be able to access their music online and on their Android smartphones and tablets.

Google said it will be a free service as long as it is in test-mode. It will debut Tuesday, but by invitation only. The company said it will soon be fully open to all users.

Music Beta is similar to Amazon's (AMZN, Fortune 500) Cloud Drive, but it includes several iTunes-like features as well.

Google's Music Beta offers something called "Instant Mix," which will automatically select 25 tracks from your library that go together. That's like Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) Genius program. Users can also scroll through their album art as in iTunes.

Users can pick iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries and automatically upload their music to Google's online service.

Also, starting in a few weeks, users will be able to rent movies from the Android Marketplace.

Google said thousands of movies will be available for rent starting at $1.99. Downloaded movies will be available for a 30-day rental period, and once users start watching the films, they will have 24 hours to complete viewing it.

The movies can be streamed on Android devices or on a computer.

Movies aren't only available via streaming: users can "pin" movies, allowing users to download the movie to their devices. That means users can watch movies on planes or areas without a Wi-Fi or wireless connection.

This is similar to a YouTube announcement on Monday, which will feature the same movies for rent.

The keynote also featured announcements about several new updates to the Android operating system Tuesday, but Google's elusive, new CEO Larry Page was a no-show.

Google's CEO doesn't always talk at I/O, but many had expected Page to make an appearance. Page is expected to be taking the company down a decidedly more "social" path to compete with Facebook, and some developers were eager to hear more about that.

Instead of an announcement about social media, the company focused on Android. Google said it has activated 100 million devices running Android, which is available on 310 different smartphones and tablets in 112 countries.

Google previewed its next version of Android, which will be called Ice Cream Sandwich and will be available on both phones and tablets simultaneously.

Currently, smartphones and tablets run two different operating systems -- Gingerbread and Honeycomb.

Some of the new features will include cameras with facial recognition, which can track eye movement and rotate a 3-D image based on where a user looks. The camera application can also track who is talking, allowing the camera to automatically focus in on the person who is chatting in a multi-person video chat.

Google said Ice Cream Sandwich will debut later in 2011. To top of page

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