Store Music In The Cloud With Apple’s iCloud
Today, Apple has made iCloud, first announced at an event this past June, available through their mobile operating system update iOS 5. Instead of synching information between a desktop computer and Apple mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone, users can use Apple’s cloud to store media like music, photos, and apps.
Apple first revolutionized the music industry with their iTunes Store in 2003, and music fans began widespread adopting the MP3 as the new medium to own music. But as digital music has gained in sophistication, fans have begun turning to streaming platforms like Spotify and Rdio, where large catalogs of songs can be streamed free (with restrictions) or unlimited for relatively small monthly subscriptions.
But while the iTunes Store has grown to be the largest music retailer in the U.S., Apple has been painstakingly negotiating deals with record labels to push their iTunes product forward. In June, Apple showed the first signs of their labor: iTunes Match, a kind of musical plug-in for iCloud.
ICloud is a free service for iOS users. It backs up 5 gigabytes worth of media (music, movies, apps, books) that was purchased in iTunes or the App Store and makes updates to each of your devices in real-time via the cloud. If you purchased all your music from the iTunes Store and its under 5 gigabytes (well over a thousand songs), you may have no need for iTunes Match.
If you’ve been illegally downloading music or digitally archiving your CD or vinyl collection, iTunes Match might be a pretty good bet.
Here’s how iTunes Match will work. For $25 a year, Apple will store all your music in the cloud, and, like iCloud, sync it between all your Apple devices. That includes all music that you’ve bought legally from the iTunes Store as well as any other music files that iTunes can create a “match” for in your library. For these files – obtained legally or illegally – Match will create high-quality versions in the cloud. Many people have called this “legalizing piracy,” though the record labels signed the deals and will share in the revenue.
Unfortunately, there’s one catch. iTunes Match isn’t quite ready yet for today’s Apple product launches, which along with iCloud and iOS 5 include the new iPhone 4S. It seems that Apple engineers are having a trickier time than they’d hoped figuring out the intricacies and overlaps of music industry catalogs.
Other updates in iOS 5 include the Siri voice recognition tool, a new messaging system called iMessage, and deep Twitter integration. The iPhone 4S, which will be available on Friday, has a faster processor and an 8-megapixel camera.
Will users shell out 25 bucks a year to have their libraries “matched,” or opt to have all the music under the sun for less than 10 bucks a month? Both options sound pretty to me.