The iCloud is coming. We know how much it will cost you. And now we're starting to get an idea of how awesome or not the Apple service that allows you to share music, e-books, and movies via multiple devices will be. With last night's launch of the beta version of iTunes Match, Apple's cloud based music service, which allows subscribers to replicate their iTunes library on the iCloud for $24.99, it looks like the Cupertino company will once again please its masses.
iTunes Match isn't the first cloud music out there, but it has some nice features that will keep Apple's already popular music service on top.
Syncing. The trademark of the service is the way it creates a cloud-based music library by scanning your already preened iTunes library, which makes it better than similar cloud-based services from Amazon and Google, explains Ars Technica's Chris Forseman.
As rumored, Apple's efforts to strike licensing deals with record labels gives its music-in-the-cloud service one major feature over recently announced competing services from Amazon and Google. That feature is the namesake of iTunes Match--using the song match technology acquired from Lala, it scans your iTunes library to find matches among the 18 million tracks in the iTunes Store.
Instead of searching for and downloading all of your favorite songs again, Match scans your iTunes library and if it finds the track it will automatically and immediately added to your iCloud--even if you didn't buy it from iTunes, continues Foresman. "Any songs from anywhere This includes tracks ripped from CDs or downloaded from the Internet, even those you may have obtained in a less-than-legal manner." That leaves little work for you, which TechCrunch's MG Siegler really likes. "Compared to Google Music Beta and Amazon Web Player, there’s now little question that iTunes in the Cloud is superior. Not only can you stream any song in your library, you won’t have to upload most of them--iTunes will match them with their files already in the cloud."
Songs that don't exist in the library will be uploaded to the iCloud from iTunes.
Streaming. When Apple first announced Match, it didn't mention that you could stream songs without downloading them. But it snuck that very nice detail in with the release of its beta version, reports MacRumors's Arnold Kim. This rules because you have access to a lot of songs without taking up space continues Kim. "This ability on your iOS devices means your music library won't need to take up valuable space on the device itself, as long as you have some sort of internet connection. " It also turns iTunes into an Rdio or Spotify competitor, The Next Web's Matthew Panzarino explains. "This effectively turns your iTunes Match library into your own personal Rdio-like service that will allow you to listen to your whole library without downloading it. Very cool."
Available on all iDevices. You can use it on any iOS device and PCs that run iTunes continues Foresman. "iTunes Match will let you mirror up to 25,000 tracks in your iCloud, and those songs can be pulled down to any iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, as well as synced with Macs or PCs running iTunes. " That's just convenient. And say you don't already own iEverything, here's just another great reason to switch over.
Like we said, iTunes certainly isn't the first to offer streaming, but with such a loyal following if they pull out another winner they'll ensure that they keep the masses pleased.
Update 3:55 p.m.: Apple claims that the service will not stream music, meaning the service loses a little awesome for those looking for an Rdio type service, reports AllThingsD's Peter Kafka. "An Apple spokesperson confirms that any music you want to access from your cloud-based 'locker' will still need to be stored on your iPad, or iPhone, or whatever device you’re using to listen to the song." MacRumors's Eric Slivka, however, believes Match has stream-like capabilities. "The difference appears to be one of semantics, however, with Apple's claims of the service requiring tracks to be downloaded actually related to local caching of streamed tracks."