Google today announced a new music service at its annual developer conference in San Francisco that goes head-to-head with Amazon’s recently launched Cloud Player and easily beats it in terms of both aesthetics and functionality. With Music Beta, users will be able to upload their music to the cloud, create playlists and sync their music to their mobile devices.

The launch of Google Music doesn’t come as a complete surprise, as rumors about it had been floating around the Internet for the last few months, but now we finally know more about the details and how it will work together with Android devices. While Google didn’t mention this specifically, it’s noteworthy that the company did not announce any partnerships with major record labels today.

Legality

As for the licensing issue, Google mostly sidestepped this question during a press Q&A after the keynote. While the company noted that it wants to work with the music industry, Google found their demands “unreasonable and unsustainable.” The service that launched today is, according to Google, perfectly legal and is “just the same as a backup hard drive.” Google obviously thinks that what it’s doing is completely legal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the music industry wouldn’t try to stop or cripple this service.

The Basics

Here are the basics: The beta is currently invite-only (all Google I/O attendees will receive access today – others will have to wait a bit longer). Google will provide uploaders for both Microsoft Windows and Apple’s OSX. For now, the service will be available for free (though this could change after the beta) and users will be able to upload up to 20,000 songs. Apps for Android 2.2+ phones and tablets will be available starting today.

google music beta on the webUnlike Amazon’s Cloud Player, Google Music will allow users to change the MP3 tags and other file information. Users will be able to download their songs to their devices from the cloud and playlists will sync wirelessly. Indeed, during the keynote, Google took a swipe at Apple and noted that it doesn’t just feature a better automatic playlist generation system based on the actual sound of the music, but that users will never have to plug in their phones to sync music.

Beating Amazon on All Counts – Except Music Purchasing

The user interface of Google Music both on the Web and on mobile devices is clearly superior to Amazon’s service (and any other current music locker service available today). With a focus on 3D graphics and easy syncing between devices, Google is clearly beating Amazon here. Where it can’t compete, though, is with regards to music purchasing. Without partnerships with major record labels, Google simply can’t offer this feature yet and users will have to continue to buy their music elsewhere.