Apple launches iTunes Match service

Apple’s new iTunes 10.5.1 update brings U.S. customers its long-awaited iTunes Match service, which lets users store a copy of their entire iTunes library in Apple’s iCloud for $24.99 per year.

Why is it called Match? Because it will match your existing music files with high quality versions of the same in Apple’s iTune’s store and add it to iCloud. Your matched songs will play back for you at the iTunes file’s high 256kbps AAC DRM-free quality–fancy talk for better audio quality than what you probably have now.

So in other words (because the whole Match concept isn’t entirely clear to many iTunes users), iTunes is storing a lot of high-quality files in iCloud and if it finds the same file in your uploaded library, it automatically plays back the better audio file for you–even if the file in your library is lower quality and even if you didn’t purchase it from iTunes. An iTunes Match account will also allow you to access any of your iTunes music on any device without syncing, via iCloud.

Does the concept make sense yet? Here’s the scoop on iTunes 10.5.1:

Store your entire music library in iCloud, including music you’ve imported from CDs, and enjoy your collection anywhere, anytime, on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, computer, or Apple TV.

iTunes 10.5 also included:

• iTunes in the Cloud. iTunes now stores your music and TV purchases in iCloud and makes them available on your devices anywhere, any time, at no additional cost.

• Automatic Downloads. Purchase music from any device or computer and automatically download a copy to your Mac and iOS devices.

• Download Previous Purchases. Download your past music, TV, app, and book purchases again, at no additional cost. Previous purchases may be unavailable if they are no longer on the iTunes Store.

• Sync with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 5.

• Wi-Fi Syncing. Automatically sync your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iTunes any time they’re both on the same Wi-Fi network.

For information on the security content of this update, please visit:

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