Google Unveils Streaming Music Beta Service to Challenge Apple’s iTunes

A showdown is looming between Apple’s iTunes and Google’s freshly unveiled streaming music service.

On Tuesday at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco, California, Google lifted the curtain on its new cloud-based music player presently dubbed Music Beta.

For now, the streaming product will remain free during its beta existence, but the service isn’t yet available to all. Google presently requires an “invite” to test out the service, similar to the way the company first introduced Gmail.

“The cloud player,” Matthew Lynley of Venture Beat reports, “is basically what everyone expected it to be — a way for Google users to upload music to a remote server and access it from other devices.”

As it’s understood, a PC or Mac-enabled application can upload music, making it possible for users to then stream content through the Internet to the mobile devices – smartphones, tablets, etc. – of their choice.

Sadly for Google, however, the Internet search giant is yet to reach an agreement with major music labels to beef up the new service’s music menu. Until further notice, users have no choice but to upload their own content.

Users of the beta service can upload a maximum of 20,000 songs via software for Mac or Windows.

Shortly after Google unveiled Music Beta, much attention and subsequent discussion reverted back to Apple, as the company remains rumored to be readying a new cloud-based version of iTunes that, at least after today, now appears essential for iTunes – assuming it wants to continue warding off challenges from competing upstart digital music services.