iTunes Match goes live, better late than never

iTunes Match officially launches this week. Is it worth the $24.99 a year? 

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    iTunes Match is a go.
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Back in June, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced a service called iTunes Match, which was described as a kind of central music repository, or digital locker. It works like this: A user pays Apple a yearly fee of $24.99. The company scans the user's library, including tracks uploaded from CDs or purchased from services other than iTunes, and locates "matches." Each match is added to an iCloud account, which the user can dip into at any time from any computer. 

So let's say you've got a gigantic CD collection. You've uploaded the contents of 400 CDs to your iTunes account, but all those thousands of tracks don't appear on your smartphone, or your tablet. Providing Apple has the tracks in its library, with Match, you'll be able to access your music from anywhere (Wi-Fi or 3G connection permitting, of course). 

Match can be extended to 10 devices; the music, Apple says, plays back at "256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality – even if your original copy was of lower quality." In other words, your crummy early MP3 collection will sound crisp and clear.

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"This takes minutes, not weeks," Jobs said this summer, according to Computerworld. "If you have to upload your entire library to some service in the cloud, that could take weeks," he added. Match was scheduled to hit back in October. But because of unspecified delays – possibly something to do with licensing issues – iTunes Match didn't arrive until this week. 

As Hayley Tsukayama of the Washington Point reports today, the launch didn't go off without a couple hiccups – servers seemed to be a little jammed, and some users had trouble getting Match up and started. "[T]he problem," Tsukayama notes, "seems to have largely gone away about an hour after the download went live." 

So should you sign up for Match? Over at Lifehacker.com, Adam Dachis offers a run-down

"If you're into all things Apple, iTunes Match is likely the best service for you. It's cheap, it keeps your music backed up and synced without the need to upload your entire collection (or possibly any of it), and it'll work with all of your devices," Dachis writes. "If you're not fully entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, iTunes Match might not be your ideal service. If you need your music on an Android device, for example, you're out of luck." 

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