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A first look at Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player

Amazon is offering two new services this morning: Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player. Time to take a quick look at what they’re offering. The front page on gives the basic details:

Cloud Player comes in two varieties: Web and Android. All you need is a computer with a web browser and you can listen to your music with Cloud Player for Web – no software to install – just a web browser. The Android version is an app that lets you do the same thing from your Android phone or tablet.

First, about the pricing: Amazon Cloud Drive is a freemium service – free for the first 5 GB of storage, with paid plans above that. The pricing structure is straightforward: $1 / GB / year, with plans at 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 GB. The pricing chart tells us that each plan “holds up to” not only X number of songs but also X number of photos or X minutes of HD video, so Amazon is pitching this service as a real Cloud Drive (backup service?), good for storing more than just music. In addition, any purchases from AmazonMP3 don’t count against your storage space, and if you purchase from the AmazonMP3 store in any time in 2011 they’ll give you the 20GB plan for free for one year.

Setting up the Cloud Drive couldn’t be easier; I purchased a $5 album from the MP3 store (Eisley’s The Valley) and then I had the option to either download via the Amazon MP3 downloader or to store to the cloud drive. With one click it had kicked my tracks over into the Cloud Drive and opened up the player.

Amazon Cloud Player

Amazon Cloud Player Album View

Cloud Player (web version) is a fairly basic music player design; there’s an Album view where you can select a full album to play; you can also create playlists, download, or delete the tracks. Playback starts quickly and there’s a QR code right on the player that you can scan with your phone to download the Android app.

OK, so next you want to upload some music from your existing collection. Click on the “Upload to your Cloud Drive” button and a prompt comes up telling you that you need to download the Amazon MP3 Uploader application (why include MP3 in the title?), which is a (platform neutral) Adobe Air app. Install the app and point it to your music library and it will scan for all the supported types that you could upload.

Amazon MP3 Uploader

Yes, there are some unsupported music types. At the moment, it’ll only support MP3 and M4A files, and (obviously) won’t support anything you bought from iTMS that’s wrapped with DRM. It defaults to assuming you want to upload everything in your library, and it gives you an estimated time to upload. (For my 74 GB of music library, it estimates 42 hours and change.)

Amazon Mp3 Uploaer Unsupported types

Minor gripe with the uploader: rather than just showing you the entire directory tree and allowing you to select the pieces you want to upload, it flattens it and shows you an alphabetized list of lowest-level folders. This is a major pain. Now if I want to upload my entire, say, Sufjan Stevens collection, I can’t just click on the Sufjan top-level folder; I have to scroll through the list and select The Age of Adz, The BQE, Illinois, Seven Swans, etc. Amazon, fix this in the next version, please?

Otherwise, the uploader seems to do its thing well enough. It tells you how much storage you’re going to use with your uploads, how much you have left available on your Cloud Drive, and there’s the ever-present link to Buy Additional Storage.

Once the upload was going I fired up my Samsung Galaxy phone, scanned that QR code, and downloaded the Amazon Cloud Player app. No big surprise here: Amazon is going for integration. The Android Cloud Player app is an update to the existing Amazon MP3 store app. This brings it awfully close to being to Android what the iTunes Music Store is to the iPhone; you can browse the store, make a purchase, start listening immediately. But Amazon does one better and lets you access your stuff in the cloud.

I’m looking forward to playing with the Amazon Cloud Player some more; it looks pretty slick at first glance. The first screen gives you the option of browsing the Amazon MP3 store, browsing/playing on-device music, or browsing/playing/downloading music from your Cloud Drive. It recognized all of the music I already had loaded on my phone just fine. You’re able to browse the stuff that you have on the Cloud Drive and either stream it for immediate play or download it to your phone for playback later. The download will run in the background while you do other things. (Wonder when they’re gonna have the Amazon App Store do that? It can’t be long now.) There are settings so you can restrict downloads to wifi-only if you want to conserve your phone’s data plan.

Actual music playback is pretty straightforward, and the player part of the app looks nice and is easy to use. (Dang, I wish there was an easy way to take screenshots on my Android phone. The “hold down back and press home” thing that Google turns up doesn’t seem to work for me.) Don’t know if the player will replace DoubleTwist as my go-to music player; guess we’ll have to see.

It’ll take some time to see if the cloud storage thing is a big enough deal for me to want to pay to store my entire collection, but for now, at first look, it’s clear that Amazon got a lot of things right on the first try.


  1. Richard Okimoto Richard Okimoto

    If you save to cloud drive, can you download the files later?

    Also, too bad they don’t retroactively put all your amazonmp3 purchases on the cloud drive, or at least give you the option to put some of them there.

  2. Richard, yeah, you have the option from within the web player to download the files off your cloud drive. So, it looks like you could use it as a replacement for any other online backup service.

  3. Funny, this caught my eye on Facebook this morning and I just bought an MP3 CD and set up Cloud before I saw your post.

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