iTunes Match Still Waiting in the Wings

Apple released iTunes 10.5 on Tuesday, but one thing many users have been waiting for wasn’t included: iTunes Match. The patch notes made no mention of Apple’s iCloud-based method of storing and accessing all of your music files, but developers got a new seed for iTunes (version 10.5.1 beta 1) that did. That means the service is still waiting in the wings while Apple continues to work out more kinks.

iTunes Match

iTunes Match

Apple is scheduled to launch iCloud on Wednesday, as well as iOS 5, both of which are being pushed out ahead of the iPhone 4S launch on Friday. iCloud is the name of Apple’s wide-ranging cloud service that includes many services.

One of those services allows users to access their iTunes purchases from any iTunes-enabled device. Music, TV shows, apps, and iBooks can all be purchased on one device and are then pushed out to any other device you’ve set up to automatically receive them.

iTunes Match is a part of iCloud, but it’s a paid service that effectively extends this functionality to the part of your music library you didn’t buy from iTunes. With iTunes Match, Apple scans your music library and then matches that library to songs on its own servers. Songs it doesn’t have, it then uploads for you, and you can then access the entire kit and caboodle from any of your iTunes-enabled devices.

The service has been in a developer-only closed beta since the summer, and reports from those who have been testing it has been mixed. During Apple’s “Let’s Talk iPhone” event, company execs stipulated that iTunes Match would be unveiled later in the month, but some had still been hoping it would be part of the broader iCloud launch on Wednesday.

When Apple released iTunes 10.5 earlier on Tuesday, there was no mention of iTunes Match. Later on Tuesday, Apple pushed iTunes 10.5.1 beta 1 to developers, and the patch notes for that release said, “You can access your iCloud library on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch with iOS 5, or your other computers with iTunes 10.5.1 beta 1.”

The notes also said that, “the scan & match feature is not yet complete.” One issue is that some songs aren’t being properly matched and are being uploaded even if they’re available on iTunes. That could lead to a bandwidth nightmare for everyone, including Apple, and the company no doubt wants to avoid such problems.

The company also said that, “Other songs may match to a different version of the same song on the iTunes Store.”

The bug list in the developer release is much smaller and more focused than prior bug lists, which suggests that Apple is closing in a release.