Apple finally talked about when people can expect to get their hands on iTunes Match, and it’s later than iCloud in general. Later in October is as specific as the company got to putting a release date on the cloud-based subscription music service that makes your iTunes library available to all your Apple and Mac devices. Here’s a look at how it works.
Your library, but not necessarily your files
Unlike Spotify or Rdio, iTunes Match only provides you with access to tracks already in your library; iTunes music you’ve purchases, or albums you’ve added from other sources like your own CD collection are what you’ll have access to. Upon first set up (managed through a menu in the left-hand column of iTunes under “Store”), iTunes scans your library, and then looks for matches on the iTunes store servers. Where it finds a match, nothing more needs to be done; you’ll be able to download tracks from Apple in high-quality 256kbps AAC to up to 10 computers or iOS devices.
If Apple encounters music it can’t match, don’t worry; iTunes Match uploads copies of that content from your hard drive to its servers, including album artwork and any other track and artist information, so you shouldn’t even notice the difference between it and the music provided by Apple (except maybe in terms of audio quality, depending on the quality of the originals).
All your music anywhere. Until you sign out.
You can download and play back songs from iTunes Match on any device where you have your account signed in, but the party ends when you switch Apple IDs. Content is erased from your device when you sign in using different credentials, so if your iTunes account for music, and the one you use for apps are different, for example, switching between the two is not a simple thing.
Pricing and availability
As announced when iTunes Match was originally previewed, the service will cost $24.99 per year. For that price, you get unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices (iOS, Mac or PC) and access to Apple’s 18 million strong iTunes store database for 256 Kbps AAC tracks for matching. Again, other tracks not found will be uploaded in their original format to Apple’s servers. Any tracks from iTunes Match doesn’t count against your iCloud storage limit.
iTunes Match will be available for U.S. users late in October, but international users will have to wait. No announced timeline for release in other markets is yet available, and it will probably take some time for Apple to work out the licensing deals necessary for that to happen.