Amazon has launched a new service called Cloud Drive which allows you to upload up to 5GB of MP3 files to the web for free. You can access the music from a desktop web browser — or use the latest version of Amazon MP3 for Android to stream music from your Cloud Drive to your phone.
If 5GB isn’t enough storage space for you, you automatically get bumped up to 20GB the first time you buy an album from Amazon Mp3. And any tracks you purchase from Amazon don’t count against your storage limit. Unfortunately past purchases don’t count. I’ve paid for a few albums in my time, but when I registered my account, I only had 5GB of disk space.
You can also get even more storage by paying an annual fee. $20 per year will get you 20GB, $50 will get you 50GB, and there are plans going all the way up to 1TB for $1,000 per year, or about $83.50 per month.
The Cloud Drive system involves a couple of components. There’s a desktop app which you use to upload your music. There’s the web-based Cloud Player which you can use to listen to your music using a browser on a Mac or PC. And there’s the updated version of the Amazon MP3 app for Android phones and tablets.
Originally the Android MP3 app was basically a store for finding and purchasing music. You could play snippets in the app, but purchased tracks were stored on your device so you could listen in your default music player. You can still do all of that, but now the Amazon MP3 app also has a “Player” option at launch, which lets you access files stored in your Cloud Drive account. Not only can you play music using the app, you can also download albums to your device.
The Player also shows music stored on your phone or tablet, allowing you to use Amazon MP3 as your primary music app.
While there’s a heavy focus on music, you an also use the Cloud Drive to store other files which you can view or download from anywhere. You can upload these files directly from a web browser window. The desktop music uploader only recognizes music MP3 and AAC music files. When I uploaded a few image and PDF files, I was able to open them in a web browser with a single click. But when I tried a Word Document, the Cloud Drives automatically downloaded the document to my computer instead of opening it.
Amazon is hardly the first company to launch a service that lets you store music and other files online. But it’s by far the biggest name to get into this space. The company has the infrastructure in place to offer speedy upload, streaming, and download speeds. And since the service is tightly integrated with the Amazon MP3 music store, the company probably sees the Cloud Drive service as a way to encourage people to buy music from Amazon — which provides a pretty good incentive for Amazon to continue improving the service.
Amazon Cloud Drive is only available in the US and the Cloud Player web apps supports web browsers including Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox 3.5 and up, and Internet Explorer 8 and up.