Apple has opened up iTunes Match in limited beta form for developers. iTunes Match is part of Apple’s all-encompassing iCloud service, and it allows users to match music in their local library not purchased from iTunes to Apple’s own servers, and then access that content from any device with their iTunes credentials.
This basically matches what Apple offers users for all content purchased from iTunes, including apps, music, TV shows, movies, and iBooks ebooks. Once a user has purchased content from iTunes, they can access it from any of their devices and download it without actually syncing to a Mac or PC.
That fantastic ability is available for free as part of the basic iCloud service available to Apple’s iTunes customers. iTunes Match, on the other hand, is a US$24.99 per year service. That fee both pays for Apple’s infrastructure (server time and bandwidth, for instance), as well as the labels which get a piece of the pie, even if you bought that non-iTunes music from legitimate sources (CD, other online stores, etc.).
All of this was announced in June during Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference. The news today is that Apple is testing the service through a developer beta. That beta program apparently met with instant interest, as a few hours into availability, Apple notified registered developers trying to sign up for the beta that it was full.
“Over the next days,” the company said, “we will continue to expand our testing. Pease check back later to subscribe.”
If you are a developer considering signing up, please be aware that Apple is asking testers not to delete anything scanned and matched to iCloud, as the company may, “may periodically delete all iCloud libraries during the beta period. This will require you to scan, match, and upload songs again.”
The company added, “Also note that some of the features and optimizations of iTunes Match may not be available during this beta.”
The Beta program is full.
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We should also note that some reports on the Internet have circulated saying that iTunes Match includes music streaming from the cloud to your device. This is not the case, however.
Apple executives that announced the service at WWDC clearly explained that iTunes Match downloads part or all of a song to your local device and plays it from that device. The magic comes from the way Apple does that downloading and stitches it together seamlessly for the user.
To some people, that may appear to be streaming, but it’s not. In addition to being technically different from streaming, it also doesn’t require Apple to obtain a license to stream that content.