LOS ANGELES — For years, many of us have gone to Google Drive to backup our files. Others have been subscribing to the Google-owned YouTube Red subscription service.
Both services had major, confusing changes announced this week, along with YouTube Music, which is set to launch a new (get this) YouTube Music service, not to be mistaken for the old one.
It’s been a lot to take in. Let’s spend a few minutes going over the changes.
—Google One. This is the new name for Google’s paid online storage subscription service, which backs up our files But it doesn’t replace Google Drive. It’s just the name of the service you subscribe to (average price $99 yearly for 2 terabyte of storage) that gets you to Drive. Free users still get 15 gigabytes of service on Drive. As part of the name change, paid subscribers will get a better deal–$99 had bought just 1 TB, and now you can get 2 TB.
—YouTube Premium. That’s the new name for what was known as YouTube Red, the subscription service launched in November 2015 to showcase original programming featuring YouTube stars. Along with the name change comes a higher price, $11.99 monthly, instead of $9.99. There is a reason. Read on:
—YouTube Music: To sign up for Red, subscribers were given access to Google Play Music for free. That’s the name of Google’s answer to Spotify, Apple Music and other music subscription services that offer unlimited and on-demand music listening without ads. In addition, the subscriptions gave YouTube fans the ability to watch videos ad-free, play them in the background on their smartphones while doing other things–like reading e-mails and texts, and offline downloads. But those features will now cost the extra $2. Google does say that current subscribers of both Red and/or Google Play Music will get to keep paying $9.99 monthly and have access to the features. YouTube Music will be offered in both a free, ad-supported version as well as the premium model for $9.99 monthly.
—Google Play Music. Speaking of Google Play Music, the subscription service that is an also ran to Spotify and others is going away, to be 100% replaced by YouTube Music. At some point. Google execs wouldn’t give an exact timeline. USA TODAY was told Google Play could stick around for as long as a year. In the meantime, subscribers will get access to both.
YouTube Music is the re-imagined take on music subscription that promises to find better music matches for you via Google’s smarts. Google will be able to sense what music you like for your commute and work life, what bands you enjoy based on concert ticket purchases and YouTube searches, via your entries to Gmail, Google Calendar and Google searches, the company says.
The service kicks off Tuesday, in a “soft launch,” that means few people will actually have access to it. Expect to see YouTube Music actually available by early to mid-June.
Finally, in an update from last week, Google saw jaws drop at its I/O developer conference when it played a tape of a conversation said to be had between a Google computer and staffers at a hair salon and restaurant. The technology was called Duplex, and was touted as so smart, it could replicate human language and set appointments for us, in so realistic a tone, that humans couldn’t be able to tell.
In the aftermath of the demo, which wasn’t live, Axios suggested this week that Google as good as faked the entire thing. Since Google has declined to reveal the names of the businesses used in the demo, or state whether the audio was edited, and the fact that the audio was clean, without any background noise, Axios suggests the demo was “partially staged.”
Google declined comment, but pointed out that Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in his remarks, stressed that these were “real” calls. Great–and we’re waiting to see the technology in action, live, not on tape.
It's the audio debate that has caught the Internet by storm – what do you hear? We asked consumers to vote.
Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY
In other tech news this week
Yes, Laurel vs. Yanny was news. An audio clip traveled from Reddit to Twitter to the White House this week, as people listened and heard different things. We explain why a noisier society and cheap speakers cause this.
Google is rebranding the YouTube Red subscription service, upping the price by $2 to $11.99 and revamping the YouTube Music service that originally launched in 2015. Google’s sales proposition for the music service is that because it knows more about you from your Gmail, calendar entries and online searches, it can do a better job than Spotify and others in suggesting music to listen to. The service launches Tuesday.
PayPal is buying iZettle for $2.2 billion. The company has a footprint at retail stores for credit card transactions and competes with Square.
This week’s Talking Tech podcasts
Brother printer update – Last year I updated listeners on finally ditching a color printer for a black and white model to save money on ink. Here’s a shocker – the starter ink lasted a full ten months.
Newsflash – online storage prices dropped. We weigh in on the pricing changes from Google for online storage, and how they compare to rivals.
Fun stuff you can do with Alexa and Amazon Music. We chat with Amazon Music vice-president Steve Boom about different musical commands for Alexa on the Echo speaker and Alexa app in a two parter. Part 1: Part 2.
Laurel vs. Yanny? The time-waster of the week went to the Manhattan Beach Pier, where we asked passerbys to weigh in on the sound clip that had everyone talking this week.
Comedians on hikes with Kevin Nealon. The former SNL cast member and comedian has taken to the canyons of Los Angeles for a fun new YouTube series that brings pals like Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Silverman and Dana Carvey out into the woods.
Inside YouTube’s revamped music service. YouTube looks to take on Spotify, Apple Music and others with subscription mix that has a twist–Google knows what you do all day, and will program music accordingly. Cool, or creepy?