If Apple has set the standard for mobile technology, then Google crossed off two more items on their list of what they need to implement with their movie rental and music announcements made at the 2011 Google I/O conference. Movie rental is available now via the Android market, while Google’s Music service is an invite only beta program.
Google movie rentals are available from the web version of the Android Market. When you load the Market’s home page you now see a Movies tab. Current releases cost $3.99 to rent, while older releases cost $2.99. For most movies you have 30 days from the time of the purchase to watch the movie, but after you start watching the movie you have 24 hours to finish watching it. Google says that all sales are final, though they may offer refunds on a case by case basis for technical issues.
The irony of Google launching movie rentals on the Android Market is that only one Android device, the Motorola Xoom tablet, is capable of playing the movies at this time. Google will be rolling out movie rentals to smartphones running Android 2.2 and newer in the next couple of weeks, and tablets will be to play movie rentals after being upgraded to Android 3.1. You can also watch movies via a web browser on personal computers.
Motorola Xoom users can start movie playback either from the Market app or the Videos app. By default movie playback is via streaming video, however, Xoom users can “pin” movies, which downloads them to the device so that you can play them even while there is no Internet connection. I imagine that given bandwidth limitations, it may make sense to pin movies even if there is an Internet connection, in order to get the best playback experience.
Another feature unique to the Motorola Xoom is the ability to share information about the movie that you are watching, either via email or social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. I expect sharing is enabled via Android’s built-in sharing capability.
Google also announced their much anticipated Music service, which appears to be very similar to Amazon’s Cloud Drive and Cloud Player combination. The service will enable you to upload MP3 music you already own to your account so that you can stream or pin that music on to your Android device. You will also be able to buy music form Google, although it appears that Google has more negotiating to do with the music labels, and there is no information about how big their music catalog will be when the service launches.
Although the Google Music service is currently in an invite-only beta, a new version of the Android music player is available now that will work with the Music service. While we will go into more detail about the new Music app in a future post, if you are interested to learn more about the music service, you can read details from the user guide posted on the Android Community site. If you wish to request to be sent an invite to Google’s Music beta, you can do so via the web site.