The first member of Apple's iCloud family that requires separate payment is here: the $24.99-a-year iTunes Match. The service will store any and all music in your computer's iTunes library up to Apple's servers and make it accessible to any of your iOS devices or computers running iTunes.
Though the free iTunes in the Cloud has existed since the launch of iOS 5 on Oct. 12, that service only covers music you've bought through the iTunes Store.
Apple's iTunes Match examines your song collection and determines whether Apple's servers contain a copy of each tune, in which case no upload on your part is required, and you can download a high-quality 256 Kbps AAC iTunes Plus version of the songs onto any device or computer you've signed into using the same Apple ID.
But for those who still have lingering questions about iTunes Match, here are a few more details:
Earlier today during the MacWorld 2009 keynote, Apple announced that the iTunes Store was on the way to completely dropping DRM. As of today, 8,000,000 of the 10,000,000 tracks are now available as DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks, and that even includes music videos. We figured we’d give you a quick look at how you go about upgrading your library of purchased content.
So the first thing you want to do is go to the iTunes Store, and look on the right-hand side. You’ll see “iTunes Plus” as one of the links, with a number next to it. That number represents the number of pieces of content that you have available that can be upgraded. Click on that.
In the final announcement of the MacWorld 2009 keynote, Phil Schiller listed off some of the changes coming to the iTunes ecosystem. First and foremost, in our mind, is that iTunes is going completely DRM-free. Starting today, 8 millions songs on the service will be DRM-free, and by the end of March, all 10 million will be without DRM. Consumers will be able to upgrade their entire purchased music library to iTunes Plus, which means no DRM and much higher quality at 256 kbps.
In a related note, Apple also announced that the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store is no more, and that instead, your iPhone can now download iTunes tracks no matter what connection you are on - that means no need to find a Wi-Fi hotspot in order to download the latest from Flo Rida. Of course, iPhone downloads are also DRM-free and sport the same quality.
Earlier today, Walt Mossberg interviewed Steve Jobs about all things Apple, including the name change, the iPhone, DRM-free music, and YouTube coming to Apple TV. Brightcove is hosting a few video clips of the All Things Digital conference, and we thought we might share the Steve Jobs interview highlight with you. There is some good information here, plus you get a look at the Apple TV YouTube interface. Give it a look, and let us know what you think.