The Washington Post

Larry Page speaks at Google’s annual conference in San Francisco

Google announced a new music service on the first day of its annual developers’ conference Tuesday, and the company’s chief executive officer, Larry Page, answered questions from the audience in San Francisco. The subscription-based music service, Google Music All Access, will be similar to other platforms already online:

The service, which lets users listen to tracks on demand and forms “stations” of related songs as you listen, will cost $9.99 per month. Early users, who sign on to the service before June 30, will be able to pay $7.99.

All users will get a 30-day free trial to try out the service, That’s a good move for Google, which may have to work hard to lure users away from music services that offer free, ad-supported plans such as Pandora and Spotify.

While Google has loaded up Google Music All Access with slick features such as the ability to easily edit or reorder playlists, the company didn’t offer many details about the service that seem to separate it from the rest of the pack — particularly given the fact that it’s only offering a paid version of the service. (Read more about Google Music All Access here.)

In his remarks, Page discussed technology and regulation and the promise of innovation:

Noting that laws have trouble catching up with technological change, Page said the technology industry can’t be governed by older laws that went into effect decades before the Internet took off.

But he also said that companies should also be “humble” when they make mistakes.

“We need to honest, and we don’t always know the impact of changes,” Page said, explaining that it’s difficult for technology companies to assess how a new hardware or software will affect the larger society. Ideally, he said, there would be a “small part of the world” where companies like Google could test things out before debuting them to the world, but there’s no mechanism for technology companies to test things on a smaller scale. (Read more about what Page had to say here, and watch a video of his remarks here.)

Page’s company is also making changes to Google Maps, adding more information to the interface and integrating it with Google+, the social network. Google+ will also add new features.

Senior vice president Amit Singhal also discussed changes to the company’s core product, its search engine, that he hopes could someday lead to “the end of search as we know it”:

He said that Google’s search engine, in the future, will “answer, converse and anticipate” — his way of saying that the company’s core product will eventually respond better to naturally phrased questions.

For example, if a user poses a question to Google by asking, “What’s the nearest pizza place?” they can then follow up that query with others such as “When does it close?” and “What’s its phone number?”

Singhal said that he also hopes Google Search will be able to guess what information users need the most and provide it for them easily. (For more on the search engine, continue reading here.)

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee.



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