Apple launches developer beta for iTunes Match

Apple is getting closer to launching its highly anticipated iCloud online service. This week the company announced that it is offering its developers a chance to try out the upcoming iTunes Match feature and, as AppleInsider reports, this beta also allows those same developers to try out the iCloud streaming music feature for the first time. The added features are included in the latest beta (6.1) for iTunes under the iOS 5 beta release

The iCloud streaming service still has some kinks to work out with one unnamed developer is quoted as saying it is "still really buggy". However the developer was able to use the iTunes 6.1 beta to stream music from iTunes Match on an iPad 2 device. iTunes Match is designed for people who have songs on their iTunes library of tracks that they have ripped from CDs and not directly from iTunes. The service can check to see if those CD tracks have a match with a track on iTunes and if it does iTunes Match provides the user with a license for those tracks.

The user must be a paid subscriber to iTunes Match in order to take advantage of the service. However, reports that developers testing out the beta version have access to iTunes Match for free along with three free months when the service goes live. The general public will have to pay $24.99 a year to use iTunes Match when it does become available. The service will cover 25,000 CD tracks in an iTunes user's library.

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