After reading about iCloud and iOS 5 that are coming out this fall, I found out about a new feature that helps these two integrate with iTunes a lot better. Let’s get right to the point.
This new service is probably the biggest change since iTunes was created! It’s actually a super cool service that allows you to upload your existing songs (songs not purchased on iTunes) to iCloud. Of course iCloud only gives you 5GB of free storage and your music collection probably far exceeds that, so why is this service so great? Well, iTunes Match only uploads music it doesn’t find in the iTunes library! So the chances that some of your music does not match with something in the 18 million plus songs in iTunes is pretty slim. Anything that does match is instantly available on all of your devices at the iTunes Plus bitrate of 256Kbps.
Here’s a real world example: Currently, if you bought 100 songs on iTunes, these songs are available for download on all of your devices. With iCloud, these purchases can be set to download automatically on all your devices instantly! Now with iTunes Match, let’s say you have an additional 10,000 songs that you’ve ripped to iTunes over the years or purchased from other music sites. iTunes Match will search the iTunes library for these songs and if it finds them, it will instantly give you access to 256Kbps versions without ever touching your iCloud storage space!! Any songs it doesn’t find will need to be uploaded to iCloud if you want them available on your devices, but this will affect your storage space.
The ONE major downside to all of that great access is that there’s a charge for it! iTunes Match costs $24.99 per year. However, the major benefit is that you no longer have to carry around gigs of music on your laptop nor do you have to wonder if everything on your laptop is the same that’s on your desktop—all of you music will always be available to you through iTunes. I forgot to mention the minor downside: you’re limited to 25,000 songs. Sorry!
My two cents
My personal music collection has topped over 100gigs and I know that’s probably nothing compared to some of you hardcore music lovers/torrenters out there, but it is substantially more than the average user. I honestly haven’t even done a recent count, but I’m sure I’m up in the 15,000-20,000 song range, so that should give you some perspective as to how large that 25,000 song cap is.
At any rate, the service is pretty awesome, but unless you plan on listening to all your music on all your devices everywhere you go all the time…then $25 a year might not be worth it. Then again, paying $2.07 per month for musical convenience just might not be such a bad deal!