Apple has just released the first beta of their new iTunes Match service to developers, according to an email sent out to registered developers. As we first reported in June, iTunes Match stores users’ music libraries in the cloud, allowing access to your entire iTunes library from any device.
The service costs $25 per year, and unlike similar services, it simply matches your music to music already in Apple’s iTunes catalog rather than forcing you to manually upload all of your music. Whatever remaining music that Apple doesn’t have in their catalog is then uploaded to Apple’s servers and added.
To use the new iTunes Match beta, you must be a registered and paid member of an Apple Developer Program, and use Apple’s newly released iTunes 10.5 Beta 6.1. Developers that participate in the beta will pay $24.99, but will receive free iTunes Match service during the beta period, as well as an additional three months beyond the beta period.
Apple also notes that it’s important to keep a local backup of your iTunes library, as they will periodically reset your iCloud library during the beta. Also, not all features of iTunes Match will be available during the beta.
iTunes Match will cost $24.99 per year, and is expected to be announced alongside iOS 5, iTunes 10.5, iCloud, and probably the iPhone 5 and Mac OS X 10.7.2.
From Apple’s official iTunes Match webpage:
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 your iCloud library for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 18 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. And all the music iTunes matches plays back at 256-Kbps iTunes Plus quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.