Google Music vs. iTunes

Google has just announced the launch of Google Music, the company's answer to iTunes. Except that where iTunes is designed for Mac, Windows and i-Gadgets, Google Music works on Android, Mac, and Linux and Windows PCs. (A web app is available for iPhone and iPad, which basically means that you can visit the website and play your music through that.)
So what are the other differences between the two services? In a nutshell, Google Music has fewer songs in its catalog, but lets you upload your whole library and listen on any device for free, a feature that Apple charges for. Google's also going all-out with exclusives and extras, like free tracks. On the downside, its service is only available in the United States, and -- again -- there's no official iPhone app yet.
Here's a more detailed rundown of what Google Music has going for it versus iTunes:
Online sync is free
If you already have a big music library, Google Music will let you upload it and keep an online backup, plus listen to all your songs on any Internet-connected device you own. The only catches are that there's a limit of 20,000 songs total, and DRMed songs -- songs with copy protection -- can't be uploaded. (Although some people are apparently having trouble with Windows Media files even when they aren't DRMed, and downloading songs that you've bought from Google can be a bit of a pain.)
Apple offers iCloud sync for all the music you've bought through iTunes, but it's only for the music that you've bought through iTunes. A new Apple service called iTunes Match lets you do this for your other songs too, but it costs $24.99 per year to use.
Share songs on Google+
You can share a song or album that you're listening to on Google+, and all your friends can listen to it once for free. Naturally, this only works on Google+ and not Facebook.
Apple has its own social network called iTunes Ping that you can share tracks on, but your friends can only listen to the normal 30-second sample ... and they probably aren't using Ping to begin with.
Freebies and extras vs. a larger catalog
Google is offering a "free song of the day," plus a selection of free tracks and exclusives from major artists. Song previews are 90 seconds long, instead of 30 seconds long like in iTunes, and it costs only $25 to set up your own shop in its "Artist Hub" if you're a musician yourself.
The downside? Of the four major record labels, Google was only able to sign Sony, EMI and Universal, leaving Warner Bros.' catalog on iTunes for the time being. Although if you're concerned about the Internet censorship bill that the record labels are sponsoring, that may not be too big a disadvantage for you.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
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