Apple just seeded a new version of iTunes 10.5 to developers, enabling the iTunes Match functionality that will allow users to upload songs to Apple’s iCloud directly from their iTunes libraries this Fall. Unlike other “cloud locker” services from Google and Amazon, Apple’s iTunes Match uses a “scan & match” technology that will try to match songs from a user’s library to the ones found on Apple’s iTunes Store servers, thus avoiding to upload a library in its entirety. The iTunes Match beta is currently available to developers in the United States, and as Apple explains in the release notes the music libraries added during this beta period may be subject to deletion, thus leading to additional re-scans and uploads.
As Apple also mentions in the release notes, iTunes Match beta subscribers “will receive the beta period and an additional 3 months of service with their 12 month subscription”, which as previously announced it’s set at $24.99 per year for 25,000 songs. iTunes LP and Extras are currently unsupported by Match, which is available as a subscription from iTunes’ new interface. From Apple’s official iTunes Match webpage:
Here’s how it works: iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to your iCloud library for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, most of your music is probably already in iCloud. All you have to upload is what iTunes can’t match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. And all the music iTunes matches plays back at 256-Kbps iTunes Plus quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.
The first beta of iTunes Match comes with a few known issues such as impossibility to add music to iCloud from more than one computer at a time, or some playback issues on iOS. Apple is suggesting developers to backup their iTunes music libraries before installing and subscribing.