So, I’ve been playing with Amazon’s new Cloud Drive/Player for a few days now. Tl;dr version? I’m not impressed - Amazon certainly has the resources to have done amuch better job.

Cloud Drive: I’m a fan of cloud storage. I love Dropbox, which is commonly named as the app to beat if you’re building a cloud storage solution. Amazon has to have some sort of local filesystem mounting application in the works to access your Cloud Drive. Giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming they’re working on it, I’m still disappointed. Their web interface is abysmal (It’s a list of check boxes next to file names! What is this, 1995?) and only allows a single file to be downloaded at a time. Even the local upload tool is terrible - letting it search your local music library to find audio files to upload, it only lists the containing folder name for the files it finds, not the entire path. I’m sure I’m not the only one who stores my music in a artist/album directory tree, so searching through thousands of album names to decide which to upload is a terrible design. Were I on their development team, I would have preferred to delay the entire Cloud Drive portion and initially only release Cloud Player than to release something half-finished that borders on embarrassing.

Cloud Player: As a streaming music service, I have mixed feelings about Cloud Player. Getting free storage of MP3s that I buy from Amazon is a nice touch - I do tend to buy most of my music from them these days. I like being able to upload my own music to stream anywhere; I have a number of favorite CDs that will most likely never be part of any contract between a record company and a streaming music service. Only playing uploaded or purchased music, however, is a problem. I want all my local audio files in large, high quality formats because hard drives are cheap. I don’t want to spend countless hours transcoding those files before uploading, and I’m pretty sure Amazon doesn’t want to spend the CPU power to transcode them before playing them back to me. So I end up with a lot of skips and breaks in my music when I listen on my phone (or anywhere else with a less than perfect connection). Offering a streaming service like Grooveshark or Rdio, complemented by my own uploads of songs that are missing from Amazon’s library would be ideal, but that’s a whole separate set of content rights negotiations.

All in all, I don’t see much point in using Cloud Player - the only places where I’d want to stream my own music instead of play it locally is on the go or at work, where I either don’t have or don’t want to use the extra bandwidth to stream high-quality audio. I’ll stick to other services that have their own libraries meant for streaming.