The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 15, 2013

Google unveils $10-a-month 'All Access' music plan

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google on Wednesday launched a subscription-based music service, allowing users of Android phones and tablets to listen to their favorite songs and artists for a monthly fee.

The streaming service, called All Access, is available in the U.S. for $9.99 per month after a 30-day free trial. It will be available in other countries later. For those who start the trial by June 30, the monthly fee is $7.99.

All Access will be competing with Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora and other popular music services. Apple, the biggest seller of online music, does not have a subscription-based service.

Google Inc. announced the music service along with expansions to its game services and tools for coders at its annual software developers' conference in San Francisco.

Google wants to not only offer access to millions of songs, but also help guide you to music you might like. You can choose one of 22 music genres and see key albums that define the genre along with recommendations from Google's curators. You can listen to any track right away, or switch to a "radio station" format featuring songs you'll likely want to hear. You can adjust the playlist as you go.

On the game side, Google is adding leaderboards and the ability to match players in online games to its Android operating system for smartphones and tablet computers.

The new features match those available in Apple's Game Center for the iPhone and iPad. Google is also making it possible to save game progress online, so players can pick up games where they left off, even on other devices.

Three employees tried to demonstrate on stage how they could all join a racing game, but failed to pull off the demo due to wireless connectivity issues in the conference center.

The Google Play leaderboards will also be available through a browser, said Hugo Barra, vice president of product management of Android.

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