Streaming music from the cloud to your computer or mobile device is nothing new, but doing so with your own library is something that's on the brink of becoming an everyday occurrence with upcoming efforts by Google, HP, and possibly even Apple.
Enter mSpot, the latest service to promise free and unlimited streaming from the cloud to your computer or Android device. The company on Monday is finally opening up this service to everyone following a month-long private beta.
To get it to work, users need to install a small piece of software on their Windows or Mac computer. This lets you pick which folders or specific albums you want to be synced to your mSpot storage. It can also be tied into the libraries of existing local jukebox software like Windows Media Player and iTunes. Every time you make a change in one of these places, like adding or removing files, and rating your music, those actions are synced back to your online collection.
On the client side of things, you end up getting a very simple jukebox interface which promises to work with IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Android users running 2.1 or higher can also download an application that can set aside local phone storage and both stream and download songs to whatever amount of space you allow it to take up on your SD card or built-in storage.
We tried it out in Chrome and on Android and had great results. The songs began playing instantly, and the player interface was simple and intuitive. Best of all, we were able to access that same library from multiple devices at the same time.
The mobile application can stream your music over EDGE and 3G. We tried it on 3G and got music to start streaming in, in about seven seconds. It then played through without any breaks or buffering; on Wi-Fi you get instantaneous results.
MSpot lets you stream as much and as often as you want, however you only get 2GB of storage for free. More can be had in chunks of 10, 20, 50 and 100 gigabytes which ranges from $2.99 to $13.99 a month depending on what plan you get. That said, you might be able to get away with just using the free service; even if your music library is far bigger, as mSpot compresses tracks.
While an audiophile might cringe, I found the quality to be quite listenable on tracks that had started out at 320kbps, and been shrunk down to the company's standard 48kbps AAC+ format. Would the original sound better? Sure, but with mSpot you can access these songs when you're not in reach of that file.
There are certainly a few other things missing from the Web and Android experience, but I expect them to be added in the future. You cannot, for instance, upload directly to your mSpot library from either of these places, nor can you add or change ratings. But even without these things, mSpot's core service is compelling enough to warrant a spot on your computer or Android phone.