Google takes on Apple with music and movie rentals

Live from the Google IO conference, the company has officially embarked on a new frontier in entertainment, launching movie rentals in the Android Marketplace and the long anticipated Google Music. 

After a year of rumors about whether Google Music would actually launch, the streaming music service finally launched in beta testing for U.S. users only by invitation only. The service allows users to store up to 20,000 songs in the cloud for streaming on any computer or Android device.

Since the platform is currently in a free testing beta, exact prices and details were not yet disclosed. It’s been rumored that the cloud music system will be billed on a subscription-based monthly basis.

During the keynote, Google emphasized the smart capabilities of Google Music compared to other cloud storage and streaming platforms like Amazon Cloud Player.

Google hyped “Instant Mix,” which creates playlists automatically based on your music library as well as smart caching capabilities for offline playback of most listened to songs.

The system also allows users to manually cache music for playback when without Internet.

Along with the Google Music, the company announced a movie rental initiative available through the Android Marketplace for streaming directly to an Android device.

The user will have around 30 days to watch a rented movie and once started, 24 hours to finish the movie. The company is also launching a new Movies app for tablets and smartphones available as part of Android 3.1 tablet update, which will also be available on Android 2.2  devices in a few weeks. Viewers using Android tablets will be able to watch content in HD online or offline. 

The announcement of Google Music gives the company a unique competitive advantage over Apple, who has yet to introduce a streaming cloud music player.