When Apple debuted iTunes Match in 2011, the service didn’t stream music, allowing users only to download tracks individually on their devices and store their iTunes collection in iCloud. Costing $24.99 yearly, the service functions by matching any of a user’s songs with the iTunes Store and then uploading any unmatched music. The company launched iTunes Match for those who have a large audio library not purchased via iTunes.
Finally, the service offers streaming functionality in iOS 6, at least in the first beta. Now when users tap to play a track, it starts playing, and they still can download it. Previously, download began automatically. With Apple’s sixth-gen mobile operating system, users can choose to simply listen to the song immediately with an online connection or download it for offline listening.
To check if the feature is functional, Apple’n’Apps played several tracks, then turned off iTunes Match and checked the music folder, which appeared to be empty. In iOS 5, the few songs they listened to were stored. The various songs, artists and playlists also pop up the cloud icon next to them reserved for the album view.
The switch from the download-only service to the true music streaming functionality is a crucial change for iTunes Match. That may be part of Apple potentially pushing for a new licensing agreement with music studios. iOS 6 also features a new music app, which now features a slick grey design with a black music player similar to the silver user interface of the iPad version.
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