Friday, December 13, 2013
Michael Liedtke / The Associated Press
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"Every time we have tried to do something crazy, we have usually made progress," Page said. "So we have been emboldened."
Here's a look at some of the announcements made Wednesday:
All Access will blend songs you have already uploaded to your online libraries with millions of other tracks for a $10 monthly fee. This puts Google in competition with paid subscription plans such as Spotify and Rhapsody and free music services such as Pandora.
All Access became available in the U.S. on Wednesday and comes with a 30-day free trial. If you start the trial by June 30, the monthly fee drops to $8. That's $2 cheaper than leading competing plans. It is expected to roll out soon in 12 other countries where Google currently sells music -- 10 European countries as well as Australia and New Zealand.
The new service will allow you to search for songs, albums or artists directly, or peruse 22 different genres. Google curators will also offer recommendations based on your listening behavior and your existing library of songs. You can listen to any available song right away, or switch to a "radio" format that creates a playlist of songs that you might like. Radio playlists can be adjusted on the fly by deleting or re-ordering upcoming songs. Google describes all of this as "radio without rules."
By combining an unlimited-access subscription plan with music sold through Google's online Play store, All Access covers any gaps. Some artists, including Taylor Swift, keep recent releases away from streaming services for several months in order to boost download sales. All three major recording labels -- Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group Corp. -- are participating in All Access.
MAPS, SEARCH AND CHAT
Google introduced new features for its mapping apps on Android devices and iPhones. When you search for restaurants in a city or neighborhood, you'll get the names of the restaurants along with their ratings at the bottom of the screen. You can swipe through the results horizontally. The mapping app will also include Google Offers -- deals akin to those from Groupon Inc. and LivingSocial.
Google is making images from its Google Earth service available on the Web browser. Before, you had to install separate software to use Google Earth. One feature demonstrated Wednesday is the ability to see a view of Earth from space and rotate it around.
Google Maps on the Web also has a new look, taking up the entire screen. Names of destinations that used to be on the left of the map are being embedded on the map itself.
For mobile devices, Google is optimizing its mapping app for tablet computers such as the iPad. That will allow the app to take advantage of the larger screen. It's due this summer.
Google will integrate what it knows about users with its search function, so it can reply to questions like "What's my gate number?" or "my restaurant reservation." Google already makes this available through its Google Now service on Android devices, iPhones and iPads. Now, it's available to anyone using its Chrome browser on traditional computers.
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