Apple Launches iTunes Match Service with New iTunes 10.5.1 Release

Well it might be a few weeks late but Apple has finally launched the much awaited iTunes Match. The cloud based music service had been available as a beta for the past several weeks with Apple making several tweaks to make sure the new iCloud service was ready for prime time.

During the “Let’s Talk iPhone” announcement of the iPhone 4S and iOS 5, Apple promised that iTunes Match would be available at the end of October. That deadline came and went with no further updates from Apple, but after some extra time to refine the service, it’s finally ready for the public.

Just this weekend Apple sent out an email to developers, notifying them that iCloud music libraries were going to be erased on Saturday, November 12th, at 10AM PST. Wipes have been done periodically during the testing period, which began in August, but this time, it was in preparation of the official launch.

If you’re not familiar with iTunes Match, it’s Apple’s music service that will scan your entire music library and offer high-quality cloud versions of your songs. iCloud music will be playable and downloadable on any iDevice, with an iTunes Match subscription – $24.99 per year. The feature is available as part of iTunes 10.5.1 which was just released today.

Here’s the official email from Apple:

If you want the benefits of iTunes in the Cloud for music you haven’t purchased from iTunes, iTunes Match is the perfect solution. It’s built right into the iTunes app on your Mac or PC and the Music app on your iOS devices. And it lets you store your entire collection, including music you’ve imported from CDs or purchased somewhere other than iTunes. For just $24.99 a year.

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 iCloud. Since there are more than 20 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. Once your music is in iCloud, you can stream and store it on any of your devices. Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.

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