Apple just released a new beta version of iTunes to its iOS developers, dubbed iTunes 10.5 beta 6.1. This new version of iTunes introduces Apple’s iTunes Match feature, designed to allow owners of iOS devices to export their music library to iCloud– a functionality that will be made available to all iTunes users later this year. If you’ve never heard of iTunes Match, the feature is a cross between traditional online file lockers and Shazam: iTunes Match automatically scans the user’s song library and tries to recognize as many songs as possible, so that the user only needs to upload to iCloud the songs iTunes cannot recognize. Best of all, all recognized songs are streamed in high quality, regardless of the quality of the songs the user owns:
Here’s how it works: iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to your iCloud library for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, most of your music is probably already in iCloud. All you have to upload is what iTunes can’t match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. And all the music iTunes matches plays back at 256-Kbps iTunes Plus quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.
The service will eventually cost $25 per year for up to 25,000 songs, but for now, iTunes Match beta subscribers can enjoy the feature for free, as Apple is not charging them during the beta period, and will not charge them for an additional 3 months of service if they agree to sign up for a yearly subscription. Early tests show that the feature works extremely well: for instance, iTunes Match recognized over 98% of all songs in our test library of 0ver 10,000 songs, made out if a wide variety of genres. To download this new version of iTunes beta, simply head over to the iOS Dev Center.