Four iOS-approved alternatives to Amazon's cloud music player

Amazon (AMZN) made big news last week by launching its Cloud Player, a service that lets users upload their music files to Amazon’s servers and then stream them over the Internet. The service works on Internet browsers just fine, as well as on smartphones and tablets that run Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system.

But Amazon’s service doesn’t really work on iOS devices. But it’s also not the only game in town -- there are actually several music services that operate in the same vein on the iPhone and iPad. We’ve compiled a few good ones that are mostly free: check them out below.

mSpot Music (Free)
About the closest thing to the experience Android users are having with the Amazon Cloud Player is mSpot Music. The app is free, and signing up for an mSpot account nets you 5GB of cloud space for free, as well -- the same as what Amazon is offering. But best of all, it actually works on iOS devices.

All it takes is snagging mSpot’s free app, mSpot Music, and syncing it to an account. That gives full access to all music saved on the cloud instantly, and allows for shuffling, searching, playing by album and downloading tracks to your device -- everything you’d expect to be able to do with local storage on an MP3 player, and everything Amazon can do.

Here’s another cool thing: mSpot is cheaper than Amazon (and it works on Android, too). Adding 40GB of storage to an account costs just $3.99 a month, compared to $20 a month for Amazon’s 20GB upgrade.

ZumoDrive (Free)
ZumoDrive is a cloud-based storage service a little more akin to Dropbox than other cloud music services, although it’s built in such a way that it’ll also allow you to save music to the cloud and stream it to various devices. It’s a handy way to get all your music from various machines available on each of them, and it lets you stream over the air on your iPhone or iPad as well.

A ZumoDrive account is free and comes with 20GB of storage for various kinds of documents. Zumo integrates with iTunes when you drop music into the cloud

Streamedy ($0.99)
The up side of Streamedy is that signing up syncs your entire iTunes library automatically. The downside -- it could take a while. The cloud music service doesn’t quite store your music online, but first checks what you have against what Streamedy has in its ever-expanding Global Music Library. If Streamedy has it, it gives you permission to stream it from its servers; if not, it adds your music to its ever-expanding treasure trove for others to share, as well.

The account is free, although the app costs a dollar. Because Streamedy is something of a burgeoning, experimental service, it still has kinks being worked out.

Dropbox (Free)
In a pinch, Dropbox will do. It’s not a pretty way to put your music into the cloud, but it does get it there.

Dropbox users will already have an idea of how the service works -- you get free cloud space when you sign up for a Dropbox account, starting at about 2GB but upgradeable if you’re willing to pay. Even with the free account, you can immediately download the Dropbox app to your iPhone or iPad and link it to your space, then start streaming music by moving it into your Dropbox folder on your desktop.

The process of getting music into the cloud with Dropbox is easy, because it literally is just about “dropping” items into the file. Retrieving music is a little more difficult, or at least, less functional. Pop open Dropbox on your iPhone and track down the MP3 you want to listen to, and voila -- streaming. Unfortunately, you can only stream one song at a time, and there’s no option for downloading it to your device. Handy if you’ve got the Dropbox space already, but for any kind of decent cloud-music experience, grab a free account at mSpot or something similar instead.

April 6, 2011