Less than two months after rolling out its scan-and-match music service in Europe, Google is bringing the feature to the United States.
Starting today, users who create Google Play accounts will see a message asking if they would like Google to scan their hard drives for music. Anything that matches its extensive library will be added to the user's online library, and can immediately be re-downloaded or streamed from anywhere. Over time, current users of the service will see their own cloud libraries upgraded. Best of all, and unlike its competitors, the service is free. (iTunes Match costs $25, as does Amazon's similar service.)
There's one trade-off with Google's version of the service. Whereas paid offerings from Apple and Amazon upgrade lower-bitrate files to high-quality versions when you download them again, Google will let you download them only at the original bitrate of your saved file. You can still stream the file in high quality, though, at 320kbps.
Google announced the new feature on Google+.