Late yesterday evening, Apple introduced the newest version of iTunes, 6.1 beta, to developers in order to test out the functionality of a new feature: iTunes Match, an extension of the iCloud service.
iCloud, which is a recent Apple development itself, allows users to download previously purchased music to new devices, such as the iPad and mobile phones. But iTunes Match ups the ante on the new feature: Once released to the public, it will allow users to upload up to 25,000 song files to iCloud for easy access on a multitude of devices, regardless of where the songs were purchased (or if they were purchased at all). Each user can authorize up to 10 devices to use the service, but only half of those are allowed to be computers.
What’s more, iTunes Match won’t force users to labor through the tedious task of physically uploading all their songs. Instead, the feature will—you guessed it —match the songs in a user’s library with the corresponding songs in iTunes’ own massive catalog and allow users to access their songs from iCloud as iTunes downloads without having to re-buy them.
All of these aspects may be free of charge, but in order to access the iCloud iTunes Match itself, users will have to pay $24.99 per year.
The new service isn’t yet ready to be thrown to the masses, though, as testers point out there are still plenty of bugs, errors and inconsistencies at this juncture.