As Todd wrote earlier today, Amazon has launched their new cloud storage service called Amazon Cloud Drive. The service is optimized to work with the Amazon MP3 store, although you can upload and store any file to the service. With the launch of the service, Amazon released an update to the Android Amazon MP3 app, which now has Cloud Drive integrated in the player, and this evening I spent some time checking out the app.
The first thing that I did was go to the Amazon.com web site and access my Cloud Drive account, which you can open at amazon.com/clouddrive. You will be prompted to enter your Amazon.com user id and password. Each Cloud Drive account has 5 GB of free storage, and you can buy additional storage at a rate of $1 per GB per year, so 20 GB will cost $20 per year. Amazon is currently upgrading accounts to 20 GB of storage when you buy an album and store it on Cloud Drive. Note that what actually happens is you are signed up to the 20/$20 per year plan that is not automatically renewed at the end of the year.
By default each account has folders for Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos. The first thing that I did was upload a Word document to the Documents folder to see whether I can view that file on my Nexus S and found that the only thing the Android MP3 Player sees is the Music folder on the Cloud Drive. Right now I don’t see an easy way to access the full Cloud Drive from a smartphone, when I enter the URL for the Cloud Drive in a browser it redirects to the Amazon mobile web site. I hope that either Amazon or a third party will provide an app that can access the full folder structure on the Cloud Drive. Currently you cannot upload files, music or otherwise, from an Android phone to the Cloud Drive.
After testing to see whether I can view documents, the next thing I did was upload a music file from my PC to the Music Folder on the Cloud Drive. While the file uploaded, and I could see and play it on my PC, I could not see it on my smartphone. Instead I saw a message telling me that if I don’t see my music that I must first register for an account from a PC and I must purchase a song or album from the Amazon MP3 store. I opted to “purchase” the free song of the day, which saved to my Cloud Drive, at which point I was then able to see the song that I previously uploaded.
Amazon now defaults to storing all purchased music to your Cloud Drive. One really cool thing about this is that Amazon is not counting the storage for music you buy from their MP3 store against your Cloud Drive storage limit. Effectively, if you only put on your Cloud Drive music that you buy from the Amazon MP3 store, you never have to buy additional storage, even if you exceed the free 5 GB.
Some of the settings in the Amazon MP3 app that you should be aware of are: streaming network preferences, which can be all network types including Edge, 3G/4G and WiFi, and WiFi only; download music only when on WiFi; set the delivery preference for purchases to the Cloud Drive or download purchases to your phone; and enable automatic download of all purchases sent to the Cloud Drive.
I think Amazon’s integration of the Cloud Drive with music purchases is brilliant, and it makes the whole purchase to play process very quick, which is going to increase impulse purchases. I do wish that Amazon provided an easier way to download purchases put on the Cloud Drive to a PC, right now you have to right-click on the albums that you purchase to download them, which uses the Amazon MP3 downloader PC app.
I also think that if Amazon is planning to sell a tablet computer, they are doing a good job of laying the foundation for a tablet that integrates well with their store and services. First they put in place an Android app store so that you can buy apps for the tablet directly from them, and now they provide a cloud storage service that can be integrated right with the device for not only storing music, but all other files like documents, pictures, and videos. If Amazon launches a tablet it will be immediately obvious how you can use it with their services.