It was just a few months ago that we were debating the strengths and weaknesses of iCloud and Google Music as a primary source for music listeners. At the time we had some hands on experience with Google Music but were waiting to see what exactly iCloud would have to offer to users.
We first got a taste of what iCloud would include when Apple released iOS 5. The ability to iTunes store purchased music across devices was quick and easy. If you wanted a particular purchased song on your phone that wasn’t in your library, you could quickly launch iTunes, find your purchased music list and download the song to your device. It seemed at the time that iCloud would always be a “Download” syncing feature where your music would be copied to your device.
Google Music was different, the service is solely a streaming service on iOS devices. It lacks a native iOS app and instead relies on HTML 5 features to make it feel native for iPhone/iPad users. Each song is streamed over the internet to your device for playback and are not available for us in other apps like iMovie.
iTunes Match Improves iCloud
Earlier this week Apple released iTunes Match to consumers. This addition to iCloud costs $25 a year and allows you to add your entire music library to the iCloud music syncing service. Many believe the $25 per year is a fee that ends up paying for the large pirated music libraries on many individuals computers. Either way, it’s a small yearly fee for significant added benefit to iCloud’s music services.
After enabling iTunes Match with your Apple ID, you’re music library will be scanned by Apple and a catalog of all of your music will be readily available on all of your devices. Some of the best features include the fact that even if you have lower quality music, Apple will provide you with the same quality of songs that they sell through their stores.
iTunes Match also shifts the way that iCloud functions with your devices. By default it will stream the music from Apple servers to your computers, iPhones, iPads, and iPods. If you decide that you’d like that particular song to be saved local on your device you can quickly download the music and store it on your device. This allows users like myself that only purchase the iPhones/iPads with the smallest amount of storage space to get significantly more media than I could before.
This ability to access significantly more media than is available locally on the device helps the iPad compete with some of the best features of the Kindle Fire and many Android tablets. Large streaming libraries of media, apps like Netflix, and iCloud for photo syncing help the iPad and iPhone continue to stand out amongst its competitors.
Available on All Apple Devices
iTunes Match makes your music library available on your Macbooks, iMacs, iPhone, iPad, iPod, and even your Apple TV. The latest software for Apple TV includes the ability to access your music library on Apple TV. View album art, music and playlists, and stream music to the device quickly and easily for music listening in your living room. This isn’t a feature I use often but notice my wife often playing her playlists through Apple TV while straightening things up around our house.
If you haven’t already done so, head over to iTunes and download the latest version of the software. Once iTunes is update you’ll be able to purchase iTunes Match through the iTunes store and quickly gain access to your entire music library through the cloud.