updated 03:55 pm EDT, Mon June 6, 2011
iTunes Match unveiled at WWDC
Apple on Monday lived up to rumors and launched iTunes Match, its cloud music. Separate from iCloud, the service matches up a listener's songs with iTunes' collections and gives access to 256Kbps AAC streaming versions, even if the bitrate is lower on the original source. Songs it doesn't find are still uploaded and create a full match for an iTunes collection that can then stream to iOS, iTunes, and other devices.
The focus on matching means that a library of music can be ready in minutes, rather than the weeks it would take for other services, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said. The remarks were a jab at Google Music Beta and Amazon Cloud Drive, which are so far free to use but don't do song matching.
A companion service, iTunes in the Cloud, lets iOS users re-download their iTunes purchases for free, no matter how often it's needed. New music bought through the store is automatically sent to a user's cloud for those who want a local copy.
iTunes in the Cloud is free as part of song purchases and available today in beta form for iOS 4.3 users with a final version ready for iOS 5. iTunes Match will need the rumored $25 yearly fee for 5GB of space and will initially only be available in the US.