TECH
12/27/2011 10:53 am ET

iTunes Match FAQ: Apple Posts How-To For Cloud Music Service

iTunes Match, the cloud music service from Apple that allows users to play the tracks and albums on their devices from anywhere, was the "One More Thing" at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference in June. Now, here's one more thing: Apple has posted an explanatory webpage detailing how to use iTunes Match on its webpage.

The iTunes Match website popped up over the weekend, perhaps hopeful that many Christmas shoppers would gift their loved ones iTunes Match as a last minute, no-shipping-required present. The new website features a lengthy explanation of what iTunes Match is and does and offers a video walkthrough of how iTunes Match works, in addition to an FAQ section.

Here's how Apple describes iTunes Match on the new site:

iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to iCloud for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 20 million songs in the iTunes Store, chances are your music is already in iCloud. And for the few songs that aren’t, iTunes uploads what it can’t match (which is much faster than uploading your entire music library). Even better, all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.

The service costs $25 per year, is good for 25,000 songs, and can be used on up to 10 devices. Though Apple describes iTunes Match songs as "streaming," that's not quite the case. When you play a song from iTunes Match, the song plays as it downloads to your machine. On true streaming services like Spotify and Rdio, the song is not downloaded to the device, but rather remains in the cloud.

Apple's iTunes Match, which just launched in November after a slight delay, is facing opponents large and small in its quest for cloud music dominance. Google recently launched its own streaming service, which allows users to upload 20,000 songs into a personal locker and stream them from music.google.com for free. (Apple poked fun at the Google service's reportedly slow upload speeds, saying that iTunes Match took minutes, not days.) Disruptive start-ups like Spotify, Rdio and MOG, which offer access to extensive music libraries for a monthly fee, are also gaining traction with users, thanks at least in part to integration with the new Facebook platform.

It's a battle for ears on the Internet, and Apple is just one of many competitors in a jumbled, multi-firm landscape. With its explanatory iTunes Match page, Apple is looking to make the consumer's decision a bit easier -- whether for or against. Visit the iTunes Match landing page for more info.

Check out Apple's explanatory video for iTunes Match (below).

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