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Apple launches full iTunes Match website, FAQ, video

updated 01:50 pm EST, Mon December 26, 2011

Includes complete setup guide

Apple's iTunes Match, an add-on service that makes most users' entire iTunes music library available to their other devices for an annual $25 fee, now has its own dedicated website that includes a walk-through video, setup guide, product description and Frequently Asked Questions column. The site may be part of an effort to combat user confusion over what exactly the service offers and to more formally separate it from the company's free iCloud service.

The idea behind iTunes Match is two-fold: it solves the problem of making ever-increasing music libraries available in full on portable devices, and it also offers the option for users to upgrade the quality of songs purchased or ripped at lower MP3 qualities up to 256kbit AAC format (which includes the ability to store artwork and lyrics inside the music file) as part of the annual fee. The service will upgrade songs regardless of where the original song comes from, given those who have some pirated music in their collection an opportunity to "get legal" and upgrade the quality at the same time.

The $25 annual fee allows for up to 25,000 non-iTunes-purchased songs to be available "in the cloud," which can be downloaded on demand to any mobile device using the same iTunes account via Wi-Fi or 3G. The process of making the music available in the cloud generally only takes a few minutes, since iTunes Match (unlike other services from Google and Amazon the offer a similar service) doesn't require much if any uploading: songs are identified through a scan of the users' library and instantly "credited" if iTunes has the same song. Only those songs that iTunes doesn't already have or can't identify are uploaded, potentially saving many days of time and bandwidth in the case of large collections.

User confusion seems to center around the idea that iCloud -- which is free -- keep backup copies of songs purchased by users from the iTunes Store, and those songs are available for re-downloading at any time. But the iTunes Match service goes beyond that by matching the entire iTunes library, and having a built-in facility within iTunes on mobile devices or other computers for instantly adding any song not already present to the library.

Because the song is downloaded to the device rather than streamed, the song can be re-played without re-downloading, saving data charges for 3G users (3G users can turn off the "download over 3G" option if they wish). Songs purchased through iTunes do not count against the 25,000-song limit, meaning collections available in via iCloud could be virtually unlimited in size.

The FAQ on the page clarifies some finer points, such that up to 10 devices are supported on any one iTunes account, and that music playlists are synced across devices. The column addresses one of the most common questions by explaining that iCloud will stream songs or download them depending on which button users press, but that mobile devices will download only (and start playing almost instantly). Apple TV of course can only stream music. The company also advises that while users do not have to use their iCloud account with iTunes Match, in order for the service to work properly they should use whichever AppleID is associated with the majority of their music purchases.

The video walkthrough can be seen on the iTunes Match website.

by MacNN Staff




  1. herbert68

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Doesn't make sense to me.

    I have already synced my iPod (fully) and my iPhone (selectively) with my Mac via iTunes - 68GB worth of great stuff. And I can already play all my songs via AirPlay on Apple TV.

    Why would I want to pay $25 to achieve exactly the same?

    Better quality audio makes no sense for listening on my Mac, iPod or iPhone, the perceived difference isn't worth $25/year.

    So what is the business model of iTunes Match? Is this off to the side like Ping - that not many people are using?

    As a long time Mac user these totally over-thought efforts are really painful to witness - if Apple would quickly learn from it's mistakes it wouldn't be a big deal at all. But the long-time debacle doesn't bode well in this context.

    My life is already complex enough, I want to keep it simple. iTunes Match is not.

  1. chas_m



    You might

    want to actually read the linked iTunes Match page so you would better understand what exactly the service offers. It's possible that it is of no use to you (if you don't care about having a wider selection on your iPhone, it probably isn't).

    I don't see why just because Apple offers a service that YOU don't need, it is thus "over thought" and "complex." This service has already been very popular and is incredibly handy for those with large collections and mobile devices. It's also ENTIRELY OPTIONAL, so if it's not for you what the h*** do you care if other people like it?

  1. TheDude2003

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Still a Beta Product!

    As someone who signed up for this, it has some use but doesn't live up to expectations at all.

    What works:
    1) You can browse all your music that makes it onto iTunes Match from any device, and choose to download/stream it to various iOS or Mac/PC devices.

    What doesn't work:
    1) Not all your music will make it onto the service. I have several *purchased* iTunes albums that are marked "error" because they've been removed from the iTunes Store between when I bought them and now. Others are marked "Waiting" for several weeks with no fix in sight.
    2) Genius Playlists and Genius Mixes are turned off on iOS devices. This basically kills the point of signing up for me. The *only* mention of this is a Knowledge Base article that was updated 2 weeks *after* iTunes Match launched:
    3) Downloads over 3G sometimes lock up or appear to not fetch ahead on the playlist, and iOS devices don't handle it intelligently. This leads to situations where you start a new playlist that needs to be downloaded from the cloud and instead will play 5 seconds of music and then stop because the download couldn't keep up. It doesn't cache and restart the song, it doesn't skip to the next song, it just stops the playlist.
    4) Various smaller bugs: Play Counts and Last Played won't sync from iOS back to Macs, Lyrics will sync between Macs but not display on iOS devices, artwork will download but not display while playing on iOS devices. These annoyances kill the utility of most of my Smart Playlists I've been using since iPods and iTunes supported these features around 2003.

    iTunes Match gets the barest function working, in that it allows you access to your most of your music collection most of the time. But it doesn't maintain the level of functionality I've come to expect as an iTunes/iPod/iPhone user since version 1.0 of iTunes and the first iPod. Hopefully in a year they'll have sorted it out. As it is, I'm asking for a refund based on all the unadvertised limitations and bugs.

  1. herbert68

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I state my opinion, I hope that was clear, if you feel differently then that is your opinion.

    I side with TheDude2003, he described the iTunes Match issues much better than I could. My question remains, why should I download a song to play it, while I already have it on my device of choice?

  1. StephenT

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Target audience

    Hi @herbert68

    iTunes Match is a benefit for users like me. My library is over 19,000 tracks and they simply will not fit on a 64GB device. iTunes Match gives me access to the entire library, whenever I am..

    Also, when building my iTines library, I imported over 2,000 CDs. Since HDD space was limited, I imported at 128k. This feature of upgrading tracks to 256k sounds interesting stuff.

    My experience has been quite different from @TheDude2003 but maybe I'm just lucky. iTunes Match has worked flawlessly for me. My favourite experience came after modifying a playlist on iPad... iCloud was seamlessly updated and my Mac reflected the same change as well.

  1. herojig

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I am a paid user and hate it

    I tried to get my money back after extreme disappointment in the implementation and execution of this idea, but I was told by apple support that was not possible, even though they could not answer basic questions on the service...what a joke! All my playlists are totally hosed, and I can't tell from the silly icons what is where anymore. Sheeesh...

  1. herojig

    Joined: Dec 1969


    @ TheDude2003

    "1) You can browse all your music that makes it onto iTunes Match from any device, and choose to download/stream it to various iOS or Mac/PC devices."

    Well, only if your "various iOS device" is running iOS5. There is not match in iOS4.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    yeah, but...

    I have a computer with all my songs and videos on it.

    I pay good money for an internet connection.

    Why isn't it just simple for me to stream directly from my computer if I want? That way I actually get my music, not necessarily the music Apple thinks my music is.

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