At first glance, Amazon's new Cloud Drive service looks like just a rad new version of Dropbox, with gigs of digital space on Amazon's sturdy servers and an easy interface for web and Android users. But take a closer look -- with its streaming music player, it's actually very well positioned as a newer, easier, better iTunes.
Until now, there's never been an easy way to share music between devices. At least when it comes to Apple products, users have to load their files into iTunes, then go through a rigamarole of authenticating devices and synching them to the device holding the files. The music is only accessible on that satellite device, and storage on the device can fill up quickly.
But with Amazon's new Cloud Drive service, those days of cords and cursing may be over. Each user gets a digital space called a "locker", and these lockers can hold music files purchased from anywhere and then stream them using Amazon's Cloud Player application, accessible through the web or any smartphone.
How It Works
Getting set up is, ahem, a breeze. After installation, the Amazon MP3 Uploader automatically scans your computer for any music files or playlists, compares them to your locker, then imports the new files.
Listening to music is theoretically just as easy. The Amazon Cloud Player streams to any web browser, and there's an Android app. Mashable discovered a way to hack it to play on iOS devices, though it isn't perfect.
Another con is cost. After the first 5 gb, it's about a buck a gig, which can add up quickly for any significantly-sized music collection.
But player problems aside, for anyone who's ever lost a music collection after a hard drive crash, this idea makes a lot of sense. And generally, having access to a large storage space that's secure and easily accessible seems like a fair deal.
So, is being first best? Google has been rumored to be working on a similar cloud storage system, and now that it's being threatened Apple is sure to throw its hat into the ring.
But for now, Amazon is here, it's free and it's easy. And you can't ask for much more than that.
(Image: Flickr member turtlemom4bacon licensed for use under Creative Commons)