Apple has just released a new version of iTunes 10.5 beta, which is now 6.1, and among the unexpected things that were included, we find that iTunes Match is now bundled for testing by Developers residing in the United States. If you all remember, this service allows users to exchange lesser quality music files in exchange for iTunes store music files for $25 a year. iTunes will scan your non iTunes music library and swap all these files for you. Some may call it an easy way to legalize pirated music, and even though we personally agree, it is nice to see it finally rolling out.
All developers who subscribe to the service will receive the service for free during the beta period, and even three months after the beta period ends. To activate the service, developers must download the new beta of iTunes and simply enable iTunes Match.
We sadly still have no confirmed dates for when all the rest of us mortals will have access to the service, but it seems to be quite close as these services begin to roll out.
Update Now here’s a pleasant surprise we didn’t see coming. It seems Apple has decided to under-promise and over-deliver with the release of iTunes Match because it includes streaming! Once iTunes Match swaps your local music with cloud music, those swapped songs become part of your purchased iTunes library. This library of content is later fully made available to you in the cloud and you can decide to either stream it from both your computer or your iOS device, or download locally to any device you want. Surely this isn’t entirely like Pandora or Spotify in the sense that you can’t access any music you haven’t purchased in the cloud, but still, this is a great solution for everybody that’s currently limited to carrying an 8GB iPhone 3GS. Have a look at the following videos with demos of the service streaming.
On a computer
On an iPhone