Offering a viable music locker in the cloud is tough when you require users to manually upload every file in their library, but thankfully that won't be the case for Google Music much longer. As part of its Google Play announcements today, the company revealed that it will finally bring scan and match functionality — already available from both Apple and Amazon — to its service starting November 13th. Matching will debut alongside Google Music in Europe for those in the U.K, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The rollout will extend to the US "soon after" according to Google.
Google's solution works virtually identically to those offered by the competition: Google Music will scan your library for content that's available in the Google Play store with any matches becoming instantly available for streaming (and download) without the need for uploading anything. There is one key difference however: unlike Apple, which charges an annual fee for iTunes Match, Google is providing the functionality at no cost. That means you can maintain a library of up to 20,000 songs through Google Music for absolutely free — a distinct advantage over Amazon's Cloud Player which maxes out at a measly 250 songs unless you decide to pay for more storage.
It remains to be seen whether Google's implementation will prove more reliable than existing options: results of matching through both Apple and Amazon have been utterly inconsistent. Nor do we know if users will be able to disable matching and upload files in the old manner to avoid those headaches — something Apple and Amazon simply won't let you do.
Update: Along with the scan and match functionality, Google has added another content partner to Google Music: Warner Music Group. The label will be bringing its entire catalog, and it's an addition that hasn't come easy; former Warner Music CEO and chairman Edgar Bronfman, Jr. somewhat famously held a low opinion of the service, even calling Google Music "an oxymoron." For Google, filling out its music catalog is of vital importance if it wants to be competitive, and with today's announcements it looks like it's getting that much closer.
Update #2: Google has just announced that movies and magazines will be available for purchase on Google Play in Canada, the U.K., France, Spain and Australia, as of November 13th.