Since Apple bought Lala, the online music store that lets you upload and stream your computer’s music online, speculation has swirled about when Cupertino will bring the feature to iTunes. If you’re sick of waiting, mSpot lets you enjoy your Mac’s music from a browser on almost any computer. While the service has room for improvement, it also puts your music in the cloud with a minimum of fuss.
mSpot's music player lets you drag and drop songs into new playlists, just like iTunes.
After creating an account and grabbing the mSpot uploader application, you can upload specific music folders from the Finder or your entire iTunes library to mSpot’s servers. (Sadly, there’s no way to upload just specific iTunes playlists.) You get a healthy 2GB of storage for free, while paid plans that offer 10GB–100GB for $2.99–$13.99 a month should be available by the time you read this. The usual DRM-free suspects like MP3, AAC, MP4, and others are supported; and niceties like album art, basic metadata, and playlists sync along with your tunes. You can even make new playlists in mSpot’s browser-based music player, but they can’t sync back to iTunes. It’s also impossible to merge multiple computers’ libraries into one streaming juggernaut--mSpot allows just one library per account.
Naturally, uploading all 1500+ songs our 2GBs would hold took nearly forever, but in a smart touch, when syncing an iTunes library, the most-played and highest-rated songs are transferred first. And because all your compatible songs--even those not yet uploaded--appear in the mSpot player, you can mark songs for removal or add new ones with a few clicks. We could start playing songs as soon as they synced, and playback and track skipping were smooth and responsive over Wi-Fi. That’s probably due in part to file compression. mSpot audio quality is terrific for casual listening, but our unscientific earbud tests found it slightly diminished compared to original iTunes Plus–encoded tracks. Still, it’s a shame that we can’t take mSpot streams with us on an iPhone or iPod touch. Beyond trusty Macs and PCs, mSpot currently supports only Android phones, leaving iOS users in the cold for now.
Despite some rough edges, mSpot is a no-brainer for music fans looking for an easy way to beam their songs from the living room to an office cubicle.
PRICE: 2GB storage, free; 10GB–100GB, $2.99–$13.99 a month
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.5 or later; Chrome 3 or later; Firefox 3.6.3 or later; Safari 4.0.1 or later
Easy to use. Generous free storage. Syncs playlists and metadata with your music.
Music playback doesn’t work in Safari 5.0. No support for iOS devices.