This week we have been test driving iTunes Match, the latest service from iTunes where you have the ability to store your music collection in the iCloud for access via your iTunes ready devices. All in all it works great.
It is pretty easy to setup. Simply have all the music you would like to include in iTunes on your computer. To sign up, click the Store menu in iTunes and choose Turn On iTunes Match. Then choose Subscribe to iTunes Match.
After you sign up, let iTunes handle the rest of the work for you. It will scan your library, match your songs with what is available on the iTunes store, and upload everything that is not available.
Turn On iTunes Match On Your iOS 5 Devices
Next you may want to enable iTunes match on your iPhone or iPad to access your library. To do so, go to Settings » Music and turn iTunes Match on. When you do so, you will get a pop up letting you know that your current library on your device will be replaced with your iTunes Match library. As long as you have the songs on your phone in your iTunes Match library, feel free to move forward.
By default, your entire library will show up on your device. Depending on how large your library is, that may be a lot of music. So you may want to get everything you want on your device, then turn off Show All Music from the Music settings so you only see what is downloaded to your device.
Turn On iTunes Match On A Different Computer
If you have a second computer that you use and want to enable iTunes Match, click the Store menu in iTunes and choose Turn On iTunes Match. If you are logged in using the same Apple ID, it should automatically recognize that you are signed up for the service.
Please note that you can only sync one computer at a time, so you may have to let one computer finish updating before you can enable iTunes Match on another.
Stream From Your Computer - Download From iOS5
One of the cool parts about using iTunes Match from your computer is that you can stream your library as opposed to having to download the tracks. For songs that are available on the iTunes Store, the quality is top notch even if you matched a poor quality version. So not only do you get great sound quality, but you do not need to take up storage space on your computer for your iTunes library.
Unfortunately on your iPhone, iPad and other iOS5 devices, you have to download the songs to be able to listen to them. This is not a huge hassle, but streaming would be nice to allow more space for Apps, Photos, and Movies.
Quirks and Complaints
iTunes Match is still new and I am sure will progress over time. Regardless, here are some issues we have run into that may be beneficial to know.
Transfer From iMac/MacBook to iPhone/iPad Quirky
Once iTunes Match is enabled on both your computer and iPhone, if you try to drag music from the computer to your plugged in iPhone, it will give you a little message saying the song needs to be downloaded before it can be added to the device. Even if the songs is downloaded from the iCloud first you still get the error message. The only way around this from what we have found is to turn off iTunes Match on your iPhone, reconnect your phone to your computer, then drag the songs to the device. When you have finished, enable iTunes Match again on your phone to be able to access your library on the fly. The alternative is to manually download items directly from your phone.
Turning Off/On ‘Show All Music’ From iPhone/iPad
From the computer, it is easy to enable or disable what music is shown in iTunes. Say you have 10k songs in your library. It may take quite a long time to browse through and find what you want. If you know that you want to listen to something that is downloaded to your iTunes library, then you can hide everything else and browse with ease by going to the View menu and choosing Show/Hide Music Not On This Computer.
From your iPhone or iPad, however, it is not as easy to change what is showing. Like we mentioned above, you have to go to Settings » Music to turn off or on the ‘Show All Music’ option. So if you are browsing your library and decide you want to enable or disable showing all music, you need to leave the Music app to go to settings and follow the steps. It would be nice if there was a quick way to do this right from within the Music app.
For $25 a year, the convenience is pretty nice and you have your library with you at all times. There are quirks which I would assume will get worked out over time. If you are an iTunes user and have multiple iTunes ready devices, or simply want to just save space on your computer, iTunes Match might be a good fit for you.