iTunes Match’s Streaming Features Make Syncing Music Unnecessary

Apple’s new iTunes Match service, to be released later this year amidst other iCloud offerings, has an increasingly more enticing feature set. In addition to providing higher quality versions of some songs stored in a user’s iTunes library, music collections are made available to five Mac systems and iOS devices so that songs can be streamed from Apple’s servers without the need to download anything except album artwork.

Not only can music take up a majority of some users’ iPhones, but many songs have to be left off of the device due to limited storage. It does not take long for a music library to reach a total file size larger than what an iOS device can store. Making music remotely-accessible eliminates those problems and certainly adds additional meaning to the iCloud functionality. We are all for freeing up disk space. In fact, we were hoping for such a feature when the service was originally announced.

The method of streaming that Apple utilizes is different than competitors as the company does not want it to be called “streaming.” Rather than only saving parts of a song as it plays, the entire song is cached so that it is temporarily saved on the device. Thus music is still stored on the device, albeit pro tem. Songs can be instantly replayed, rewinded, and fast-foward, features many other streaming services do not offer in such a completely instantaneous fashion. Listening is not limited to streaming/caching, songs can also be downloaded individually so they can be enjoyed with an internet connection.

My only gripe with iTunes Match is that there is not an option to download new music on a subscription plan a la a service such as my favorite, MOG. Every track has to be added to an iTunes library or purchased individually. While not diving into potential ramifications, doesn’t the service indirectly promise to make downloaded music legal? So, Match could be manipulated to become such a service with additional work. However, iTunes dominates digital music sales so I doubt we will see it officially expand in that direction anytime soon, if ever, since that would represent a major shift in music distribution.

Hopefully this means that Apple has more remote access features up iCloud’s sleeve. After all, our iOS devices barely have enough storage space left from all of the different versions of Angry Birds as it is.