iTunes Match user guide
Now that iTunes is in the Cloud and you can download all of your past purchases back onto your device at any time, Apple have released iTunes Match - a breakthrough cloud based music service.
What is iTunes Match?
iTunes Match is a revolutionary service from Apple, (not unlike Google Music) that will scan your entire iTunes Library, match your songs with music that's available in the iTunes store and store the tracks in your own personal “cloud locker” for later reference. This means your entire iTunes library is now in the cloud, ready to be accessed by up to 5 devices you've activated iTunes Match on.
How does it Work?
Once activated, iTunes Match will launch in a separate tab to your iTunes program. It will then begin to scan your library and match all the songs and videos you have with the iTunes Store. As there are over 15 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are your music will already be there. So rather than upload your entire library (which could take weeks) it will automatically match them up and set them aside. This means that any music you’ve got from other sources, for instance that you've ripped from a CD you own, are able to be matched.
This service is great because no matter where the music is from it will match it in the cloud and automatically convert it to the highest bit rate that iTunes gives out (a better bit rate means a better quality song).
Of course, if the service finds a song that is not in the iTunes store, it will upload a copy of it into your cloud library.
What does that mean to me?
If you recall, when Apple launched iOS 5 they finally made their devices “PC-Free”, meaning they would never have to be plugged into your PC in order to be setup or synced. So, if you get a new device, you go through the initial setup process, sign in with your Apple ID, enable iTunes Match and all your music is sat waiting for you in your music app... without the need to plug into your PC or Mac. It also means that your music doesn't take up all of your device's storage space!
If you’re using an iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad, your device will download the song you want to listen to and play it while it’s downloading. That song is then in your “local library” (which means it’s stored on the device) - you can then keep it there if it’s a frequent song, or delete it from your device again if you need the space and it will go back to the cloud.
You need to have an unlimited data allowance to use iTunes Match over 3G, as otherwise you may end up with huge bills! If you don't have an unlimited data allowance, iTunes Match can use up to 2MB of data per song you stream, so it you're heading out and wanting to enjoy some music on your iDevice, make sure to download the tracks over Wi-Fi before you leave the house.
If you’re on a PC/Mac the music will stream directly from the cloud, without being downloaded. Although again, if you want a hard copy of your music you can download it at your pleasure (over an internet connection of course).
How do I get it/what are the requirements?
If you want to get your hands on iTunes Match, you need to make sure you’ve got iTunes 10.5 or higher on your computer and iOS 5 or higher on your iDevices.
If you’ve got all the above covered, simply head into iTunes and click the tab called “iTunes Match”. if you don’t see it, don’t worry; Head into the iTunes store and click “iTunes Match” in the links on the right hand side.
The service costs £21.99 per year, for up to 20,000 song uploads and 5 connected devices.