Home One More Thing… iTunes Match is on the Way

One More Thing… iTunes Match is on the Way

Between the more than 200 features that went live with iOS 5 last week, not to mention the sales record-breaking iPhone 4S, Apple customers could be forgiven for not noticing that one last feature Steve Jobs promised in June hasn’t arrived yet.

iTunes Match, Apple’s cloud-based music backup and syncing service, was held back during the launch of iOS 5 and iCloud, which was probably a smart move considering the strain iOS 5 itself put on Apple’s servers. Well, iTunes Match should be dropping any day now.

A new setting has surfaced in iOS 5 that enables users to turn on iTunes Match. The toggle was initially only visible to developers, but is now visible to all users, including us. Toggling the switch will result in a message saying, “You are not currently subscribed to iTunes Match. Use iTunes on your computer to subscribe.”

This is not yet an option in the current version of iTunes, but presumably version 10.5.1 is on the way, which will enable the feature. Apple has said it expects to make iTunes Match available before the end of October.

Apple did roll out something called iTunes in the Cloud last week, which allows users to push new iTunes purchases to all of their devices wirelessly. When it’s ready, iTunes Match will do the same thing for their entire library.

Rather than requiring one gigantic bulk download like Google and Amazon’s cloud music lockers do, Apple will simply match your library’s meta data to its massive collection of 20 million songs, which are stored on its servers. All matched tracks will be available at a high 256kbps bit rate, even if that’s of higher quality than your original files. Anything Apple can’t find will need to be uploaded. The service costs $25 per year and is separate from one’s standard iCloud storage.

Google, which already has a cloud-based music locker, is expected to launch its own MP3 music store very soon, though the search giant has quite a way to go if it’s serious about competing with iTunes in this space.

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