Google Music gains free scan & match in US to compete with Apple's iTunes Match

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Previously limited to Europe, the scan and match feature in Google Play's music service arrived in the U.S. at no cost on Tuesday, matching a key feature of Apple's iTunes Match.

Google announced Tuesday that its new matching feature will scan a music collection and quickly rebuild it in the cloud for free. Previously, users were required to upload their own music, a process that could take days for a collection with many gigabytes of audio.

Google Music allows users to match up to 20,000 songs from their music collection, and those tracks can be streamed back at up to 320 kbps at no cost. Google Play has a limit of 300 megabytes per individual song, and there is no option to purchase more storage to go beyond 20,000 tracks.

In comparison, Apple's iTunes Match will scan a user's music library and match it up with tracks available on the iTunes Store for $24.99 per year. iTunes Match has a 25,000 song limit — 5,000 tracks more than Google's free service.

When iTunes Match was announced by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011, he ribbed competing offerings from Google and Amazon, which at the time could take "weeks" to upload extensive music collections.

But Amazon's Cloud Player added iTunes Match-like scan and match functionality this July. Amazon allows users to import up to 250 songs for free in its Cloud Player, while a Cloud Player Premium subscription costs $24.99 per year and allows users to import up to 250,000 songs — 10 times that of Apple's iTunes Match.

While Amazon has an official Cloud Player application available for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, Google has not yet released an official Google Music client for iOS. There are, however, some third-party options available in the App Store.