updated 09:00 pm EDT, Wed October 26, 2011
Apple resets iTunes Match ahead of public launch
Apple told developers late Wednesday that it was resetting their iTunes Match accounts for what's likely the last time before the end of October launch. Its need to upgrade the "overall quality and reliability" of the cloud music service would require that the existing accounts be reset on October 27. Those signed up in the beta phase have been told to turn off iTunes Match on all their computers and iOS devices to avoid connection problems during the shutdown.
The wipe is likely a final check before the service goes public. Apple recently enabled the iTunes Match option in regular iOS 5 builds even though regular customers can't yet sign up for the $25 yearly plan. It will need an updated version of iTunes 10.5 before listeners can register, although whether that's iTunes 10.5.1 or not isn't apparent.
When active, iTunes Match promises to be the most advanced of the major cloud music storage services. Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music Beta are free for basic use, but they require that users upload every track themselves, with non-native songs being transcoded and possibly losing quality. iTunes Match will check whether or not the song exists in the iTunes Store first and, if it does, waive the need for an upload, even if the base song was at a lower bitrate. Only unfamiliar tracks have to be uploaded and cut into the 5GB of free storage Apple offers as part of iCloud.
Its service isn't strictly a streaming service and downloads tracks temporarily for playback.