iOS 6 beta turns iTunes Match into a streaming music service

If you own an iOS device, you are likely used to iTunes Match, which Apple launched in 2011 with the release of iOS 5. This feature let users scan their entire music collection and then matched the tracks to a iTunes database of songs. In theory, this allowed iOS owners to store their tracks on Apple's iCloud service so that they could be streamed to iOS products.

That was the theory. The fact was that when you obtained your songs from the iCloud service, they had to download to your local storage device first. So technically, it wasn't a streaming music feature after all.

Now, Cult of Mac reports that with the first developer beta of iOS 6 now available, the iTunes Match service on iCloud has now finally been turned into a true streaming music service. The story reports that with the iOS 6 beta, users can now listen to a song on their iTunes Match collection immediately without having to first download that track. The option to download songs is still there, however.

This is a big change and puts iTunes Match into competition with other streaming music services such as Pandora and Spotify. Of course, we might have to wait a few months before this new feature is launched, along with the rest of iOS 6.

Source: Cult of Mac

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I'd love to see it take on some of the features of Google Musics app where you can download specific playlists. Syncing wirelessly between phone and itunes, I stick something in a certain playlist for the gym or way to work, leave the house and its on my phone. Perfect.

The benefit of iTunes over Google is that its an actual music player (and you can upgrade the quality of your tracks) which manages your music direct on your PC whereas Googles service just copys new tracks, never deletions and I'm not sure what happens with edits.

Maybe this development in Match will force Google to put through some improvements in their system... unless they're looking at terminating it, in which case lets hope Match produce an Android app too.

I bought iTunes Match. I tried to use it... twice. I really wanted to like the service, but there were too many issues. If iOS 6 sorts them out, maybe I'll give it a try again.

Some things that I couldn't deal with:

1. "This item is unavailable for download". <-- this happened WAY too often. I was on 3G, sure, but I had a perfect signal, web browsing worked fine, and there was no other explanation as to WHY I couldn't listen to MY music on MY device.

2. Music doesn't play. No error. It just skips to the next track.

3. For some reason, iTunes match ignores smart playlist ordering. ALL of my music is in smart playlists, and it's in a very. specific. order. Please sync this! It's also problem when syncing over USB (and has been since I got my first iPod), but there are workarounds. These workarounds don't work over iTunes match.

4. Cannot sync smart playlists that reference other playlists (whats the point of having smart playlists then!?)

5. "Duplicate songs will not be synced". Uhh... okay. I can imagine that they don't want to store duplicate data... but at least make a REFERENCE to the song. Some bands include the same song on multiple albums (not to mention best-of collections, etc.). Don't break my albums by forcing me to choose! Just store double references (with separate metadata) to the same song! Not complicated!

6. Album art is slow to download, and often never appears. (Why did I spend HOURS tagging and adding artwork if you just discard my info!)

7. Downloading. (now fixed in iOS 6? We'll see...) So my songs are in the cloud. Fantastic. Why are they also taking up space on my device(s)? I'd accept a setting for "use Xgb for music, and delete least-listened-to and old songs when the space is used up to make room for new stuff". That way I could control it. But when iTunes match uses up the rest of the space on my phone, and I can't install apps or download podcasts anymore, it's a problem.

I might be in the minority here... Most people don't use smart playlists as much as I do, or obsess over meta-info like album art, but if you want to get people to use the service, at least make it comparable to the basic sync-over-usb process they've had for years.


cyberdrone2000 said,


What he said. Handy service for being able to access my whole music collection from my phone but has annoying issues which while not stopping the service working make the experience suck.

Also I would like some indication while in artist view that I have downloaded an album from that artist. Like a dot in the cloud to indicate that I have downloaded something from that artist.

Would also like a quick way of switching between cloud and local from within the music app, not having to go into settings and enabling show only local.

The article implies that the whole track needs to be downloaded before it will play on an iOS device. This is incorrect. The tracks begin to play as they are being downloaded which is streaming.

On iOS the song is "cached" so that if you play it again it plays the song from it's local storage.

iTunes Match does manage the storage for you... so if you are tight on space it cleans up previously downloaded songs to make room for new music.

This update gives more control to the user, which is probably a good idea all-the-same. But the service is streaming music in every sense of the word in its current incarnation. Just everything that is streamed is also cached for future playback.

pphheerroonn said,
You could always just click an iCloud song and play it?...

You'll then notice the download button disappears. Because it has downloaded it to your device.

Not sure if it will change but at the moment it appears you can only 'download' an entire album from iCloud on iOS 6. the iCloud logo next the EVERY track has disappeared and is just at the top of the album now.