While Canadians have had access to iTunes Match for nearly a month now, Apple is making its expansion into 19 more countries official today. The service will take up to 25,000 songs from your library, whether acquired legally or not, and match them with songs in Apple’s iTunes MP3 library. Those matched tunes can then be downloaded on up to 10 devices, including iOS 5-capable iPhones and iPads.
I signed up for the $27.99/year service the day it was made available, and though the experience is pretty fantastic through iTunes on my MacBook, it causes my iPhone library to become practically unresponsive. Granted, I matched the full 25,000 songs but clearly the service is not ready to parse such a large database. Even if I “hide” all the songs that I haven’t downloaded, which leaves the accessible number at less than 1,000, scrolling through my list is extremely slow.
Not only that, but whenever I try to play a new song that I haven’t downloaded, it usually pauses for 10-15 seconds while Match downloads the first portion of the tune; this does not happen with streaming services like Slacker and Rdio despite ostensibly doing the same thing, which is caching the song.
Nevertheless iTunes Match is a one-of-a-kind thing: it allows the studios to make some money from years of illegal downloads, while making it relatively convenient to access your extensive music library from any Apple device. You can access and subscribe to iTunes Match through iTunes in Windows or OS X and enable it through the Settings/Music menu on your iPhone or iPad.
How has your time been with iTunes Match? Do you regret spending two CD’s worth on the service, or does its relatively low yearly cost justify the decidedly non-Apple experience?