Apple’s iTunes Match service uses downloads, not streaming

“While a video making the rounds today makes it seem as if Apple’s upcoming iTunes Match service will stream music from Apple’s servers to a user’s device, that’s not the case,” Peter Kafka reports for AllThingsD.

“An Apple spokesperson confirms that any music you want to access from your cloud-based “locker” will still need to be stored on your iPad, or iPhone, or whatever device you’re using to listen to the song,” Kafka reports. “This applies both to music you’ve purchased from Apple’s iTunes store, and, when Apple’s iTunes Match service starts up this fall, with music you’ve acquired some other way, then stored on Apple’s servers.”

Kafka reports, “So what about that clip from Insanely Great Mac, which makes it look as if users will have the option to download or stream songs? Apple says that what looks like a ‘stream’ is really a simultaneous listen and download — users can hear the song while their machine ingests it.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward Weber” for the heads up.]


  1. This is so you never, ever have buffering and you can fast forward and rewind the song. It’s exactly how the Apple TV2 works. I’m sure there will be a cache that holds your ‘streamed’ songs and when this cache is full it will delete the oldest (or least played) and grab the new one you want. It’s Streamloading and it will give you a better presentation of the songs than regular streaming would in low-bandwidth situations. So, again, it’s a FUD title to an article, rather than the TRUE title, which should be, “Apple improves on streaming to eliminate buffering and give a better streaming experience.”

    1. I’m not following you here. I live in Germany and have an incredibly slow Internet speed. My ATV2 buffers constantly and is almost unwatchable. I’m thinking this match thing isn’t for me as long as I am here.

      1. 1. You begin to download an album.

        2. As the album is downloading, you can listen to the part that has downloaded at the same time the rest of your album is still downloading.

        3. When the album is downloaded to your device, it is in your device and don’t have to download it again.

        It is the same thing when ripping a CD. You can listen to the songs processed as the rest of the CD is ripping.

  2. I’m not sure who thought it was streaming? It’s going to be nice but hardly earth shaking. AAPL has much cooler stuff coming including things to work with the iCloud “streaming”.

    1. The whole idea behind this works hand in hand with making iPhones, iPads and iPods wireless (as in no need to attach to a computer to update, change music, etc.).

      So if you have a full iPhone, and want to change up your music, you would just select what gets removed and download the new stuff you want (which you already own, or bought new on iTunes). There may be some method for automatically removing enough music which has gone unlistened the longest, the thought being you’re not likely to listen to it soon again anyway.

  3. All I want to know is…

    Can I re-download the 400+ cds I ripped at the previous 128 kbps bitrate in the higher default of 256?

    Thus upgrading the sound quality of my iTunes library for the price of a 1-year subscription.

    1. From what I was led to believe when iTunes Match was launched, yes, you can download your whole collection to a computer and keep it. I’m counting on it, cos it’ll save me re-ripping my entire library.

      Guess Apple and the labels are counting on people continuing to pay $24.99 a year for the convenience of taking their music everywhere.

  4. Why have so few understood that Apple’s icloud is different from anyone else because, as Steve Jobs said, it’s NOT a hard disk in the sky. iCloud is more of a transfer system to keep the devices synced up. Apple knows that for the system to “just work” it cannot be dependent on Internet connectivity. Therefore the desired data ultimately MUST reside on the device. Music, apps, docs, books, photos … all must be on the devices.

    People who say, “I don’t want my stuff on some cloud server,” should welcome Apple’s iteration of the cloud. Think of icloud more as a delivery service that (unlike the USPS) just works. Your data gets transferred when you have Internet access in the background, and is still there when you’re spelunking.

    Slap the next guy that says iCloud shares any characteristics with Chromebooks.

  5. I think you are taking the comments of the Apple employee too literally. I believe your music DOES play via Streaming OR by downloading the music to your PC, Mac, or iOD device. ( Here’s where the confusion my come into play ). I believe what the Apple employee meant to say was that in order for you to ‘keep’, ‘posess’, ‘own’ ( choose your own term ) your music, you also need a copy physically backed up somewhere. Assume iTunes suddenly disappeared one day, WHERE is YOUR music? If it were ONLY stored in the Cloud, it would be forever gone. So-o-o, it must reside in the Cloud AND you must have it stored away in some form, archived as a hard copy backup. Catch the subtle difference? You CAN stream OR download, but either way, if you value your music collection, archive it locally in some way TOO.

  6. This kind of “reporting” is what you get when the reporters know nothing about how technology actually works.

    “Streaming” has become a buzzword that the press has pushed (and pushed) as some kind of gold standard in the past and now cling onto it even when they come across something that is superior to “streaming”. Reporters simply cannot differentiate technologies on the fly, independently, not until they meet with some sidekick Geek, that they use every now and then, who will then update them on the newest thing.

    In a few days time the reporters will wisen up and realize that what Apple offers is actually “Streaming-plus”. The “plus” being that as well as streaming the music it actually gets stored (temporarily) on the device. Once you start streaming something new the last stored item (song or what ever) will get overwritten by the new item being streamed/downloaded. The download is purely to enhance the experience not to be kept as a permanent record. Sure that means the device must have “some” memory storage for temp downloads…..who wouldn’t have a device with at least a Gig? For all we know, Apple may even be able to cope with zero temp storage and in that case the experience will be as good as AMZN of GOOG type of streaming. I expect the experience gets better as temp storage gets bigger.

  7. streaming makes sense only for content one intends to consume one time only. for all media content that you intend to enjoy more than once, who wants to constantly beam it around the globe? download it to your portable device and take it with you without stressing about finding hot spots or going over your data plan’s quota. Sheesh, the reason the iPod remains a hot seller is because IT WORKS. The reason RealPlayer is dead is because IT DOESN’T WORK for anyone not connected to a high speed internet connection.

  8. Bloody hell, despite Apple clearly stating that it’s not streaming, people insist that they know better. Like you, Paul. It’s simple. iTunes Match reads your iTunes library, and matches the tracks therein to tracks in Apple’s iTunes database in iCloud. Any music that it can’t match it uploads. All new music added to iTunes will be added to your iCloud library. When you are away from home, and want to add some more music from your library to your iPod Touch or iPhone or iPad you can access from iCloud and download onto the devise, where it resides permanently. It. Doesn’t. Stream.
    There, is that clear enough? And I’m no technical expert, but even I can understand the basic principle.Streaming is utterly useless when a), you have infrequent data access, and b), your network only allows 500Mb/month data. I used to use that in a WEEK listening to streaming BBC 6Music for three hours a day. Apple understand this, it’s a pity so many others lack the ability to comprehend it.

  9. I was told the first few seconds of each song are downloaded onto the iOS device when it first syncs over the cloud and stored as one file. This achieves the instant play of songs while the file downloads from the cloud.

    However it works, this is Apple at its best. It is so easy to use and requires almost no understanding. My mom will simply see all her songs from iTunes on her iPhone and she can play them. She’s never heard of Spotify and doesn’t know what ‘the cloud’ means and she won’t need to.

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