iTunes Match

Apple will stream music to iOS6 devices, pull plug on social music service

Friday, June 15, 2012 - 12:40pm

iTunes MatchApple's cloud music service iTunes Match was rumored to be a streaming service when it first debuted last year (RAIN coverage here). It turned out that iTunes Match simply played songs as they downloaded.

But in the beta for Apple's new iOS 6 (the new operating system for iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads), "iTunes Match has become a full-on streaming service," reports MacRumors (here). In fact, streaming is actually the default option for playing music stored in the cloud.

Meanwhile, Apple will reportedly shut down its music social network Ping in the next release of iTunes. "The service is a failure," writes All Things Digital. It launched in September 2010 (RAIN coverage here) and will likely fade away this fall. All Things Digital has more on the story, including analysis on why Ping flopped, right here.

Audiogalaxy returns with P2P Internet radio/music locker service

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 12:15pm

The newly-relaunched Audiogalaxy.com is designed as a "hybrid" of two popular online music models: (1) an online "locker" to store and remotely stream users' private music collections, and (2) customizable, algorithm-based "music discovery" streams -- in other words, personalizable Internet radio.

But more than this particular combination, what's interesting is the delivery structure. The music isn't even streamed by Audiogalaxy in the conventional sense -- what the user hears is actually streaming directly from user to user, without ever being saved on the company’s servers: peer-to-peer streaming. Logically, this arrangement greatly reduces Audiogalaxy's bandwidth bill while quickly growing their library of available music. 

"Our service offers music fans a tunable music experience - play your own tracks anywhere without uploading, copying, or syncing, or lean back and start discovering music you don't own via Mixes," Michael Merhej, the company's founder, said in the launch announcement. The company calls the music discovery streams "Mixes;" they're playlists of recommended songs pulling not from a library Audiogalaxy had to build itself, but from all of Audiogalaxy's users' collections.

Because of the peer-to-peer architecture, the locker service doesn't require users to actually upload their music files. Instead, up to 200-thousand songs on your computer are simply scanned and made available for instant streaming.

(While this is reminiscent of iTunes Match or the MP3Tunes.com "Beam-It" feature (here), its fundamental difference is that Audiogalaxy isn't serving the file back to the user.) 

The streams are ad-free and cost nothing for desktop listening. Mobile streams are $4/month.

Janko Roettgers, in GigaOM, wrote, "I had a chance to play with both the Web as well as the mobile version of the service Monday, and I liked what I saw. Pandora tends to gear towards the mainstream when listening to niche channel stations, but Audiogalaxy served up tons of music I hadn’t heard before. The local stations are also a nice touch. However, the Android app seemed a bit too cluttered to be useful, with too many options to access information about playlists and stations."

See more, including an introductory video, here. Read Roettgers reporting here.

Apple reportedly developing "adaptive streaming" tech for music

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - 11:35am

Apple's iTunes MatchApple is said to be developing "adaptive streaming" technology, according to The Guardian. "The new system would adjust itself to the bandwidth and storage available on the receiving device."

The Guardian theorizes that Apple would use such streaming technology in iCloud and iTunes Match, services that let users store music in the cloud and download it to mobile devices.

"Potentially, it will allow an iPhone user to access smaller file types to avoid using significant mobile internet bandwidth, but allow those with a fast connection to download or stream studio quality music... It is unclear whether the audio will stream in real time and compete with Spotify, or simply download a copy to the device for later use." writes The Guardian. Currently iTunes Match simply downloads music to a mobile device, but some report Apple streams the music if the file is still downloading or if the user has run out of storage on their device (read more about iTunes Match in RAIN here and here).

The Guardian expects Apple to show off the new feature alongside the new iPad 3 in early March. The publication has much more coverage here.

Apple launches cloud music service iTunes Match

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - 11:00am

Apple's iTunes Match cloud music serviceYesterday Apple finally launched its cloud music service: iTunes Match.

The $25 per year service "matches" your local music in iTunes with 256kbps AAC cloud versions, only requiring you to upload tracks that iTunes can't find a match for. Your cloud music is then accessible to stream to Apple TVs, or to download on other computers, iPhones, iPod Touches or iPads. All in all, it's more like an online backup or cloud-based sync service than a streaming platform.

Google and Amazon offer competing cloud music services. However, their services require users to upload all their music. Their services also focus more on streaming users' music to mobile devices, rather than simply syncing music as iTunes Match does. Amazon's service is free for up to 5GB of music, than $20 after. Google's service is currently free, though many expect that to change soon.

iTunes Match was first announced in June (RAIN coverage here). Apple notably missed its "by the end of October" deadline to launch iTunes Match.

The L.A. Times has more coverage here, while Lifehacker offers tips on helping you decide if you should sign up (here).

Have you signed up for iTunes Match? What do you think? Got any thoughts on what Apple will do next with its cloud service? Sound off in the comments!

WASHINGTON POST: iTUNES CLOUD SERVICE NOW ON PAR WITH SPOTIFY OR RDIO, BUT FOR $2/MONTH

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 12:00pm

Apple has opened a beta version of iTunes Match — the music component of its coming iCloud service — to developers.

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