Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Amazon Cloud Player Works

Playing Your Music from the Amazon Cloud
The Amazon MP3 Player is available for mobile devices like this one running Android.
The Amazon MP3 Player is available for mobile devices like this one running Android.
Screenshot by Stephanie Crawford for

So far, you've learned how to stock your Amazon Cloud Drive with your favorite tunes. You've also discovered that you can download and play music files purchased from Amazon on any MP3 music player. In the introduction, though, we contemplated the problem of having limited storage capacity on computers and personal stereos. Amazon has been able to address this problem by enabling you stream media from your Cloud Drive rather than download it permanently to every device you use. This has opened up more flexibility than ever for accessing and playing the music you love.

We've already explored one application that can stream your music: the Amazon Cloud Player. If you have a Web browser that meets the Cloud Player's requirements, you can play your music as streaming audio right there in your browser. There's no need to download the music or install a special player. You can also create your own playlists and use the interface to select tracks to add to each playlist. So, unlike streaming Internet radio services like Pandora, you have total control over what song's coming up next.

The other application that really shows off the power of music in the cloud is the free Amazon MP3 Player, available as an application for your computer and a mobile app for Android devices via Google's Android Market. Once installed on your Android smartphone, tablet or personal stereo, you can use the Amazon MP3 Player to access all the music from your Cloud Drive. As long as your device has an Internet connection (cellular or Wi-Fi), you can sign in and stream your music straight from Amazon. Instantly, you're the DJ for your own private Internet radio station!

So what if your personal stereo isn't an Android device? Sorry, iPhone users, there's no app for that! As of this writing, it's too soon to tell when, if ever, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users will be able to download or stream their music from an Amazon Cloud Drive. This may be in part because of the software's use of Adobe Flash, which is infamously unsupported on Apple's mobile devices [source: Chen]. There's some good news for BlackBerry and Palm users, though: You can still use your devices to purchase and download MP3s from Amazon even though streaming playback isn't currently available [source: Amazon].

We've played through lots of features and breakthroughs associated with the Amazon Cloud Player. Next, though, we'll survey the challenges facing Amazon, its cloud technology and the Amazon Cloud Player experience.