While hardly enough to write up a full review of Apple’s new service, the update did give a basic peek at what’s to come.
To try out the service, I had to download iTunes 10.3 and have a device with the latest version of iOS, 4.3.3. That update works for the AT&T iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, and third- and fourth-generation iPod Touch.
Getting to the new features in iTunes wasn’t exactly intuitive. I had to go to the iTunes store, where I saw a new menu option on the right side of the screen — “Purchased.” You can also look at your purchased music and click the “Download Previous Purchases” link.
I clicked on that, and iTunes scanned my library to look for all the music I purchased through the store. The menu has two categories: “All” and “Not in my Library,” and iTunes sorts the tracks by artist and/or when you purchased it.
From there, iTunes downloaded all purchased tracks from my computer into the cloud.
The new version of iTunes also lets users set up automatic downloads, so that when they change something on one device, it makes the change on all their devices.
On the iPod Touch, I had a similar experience. The iTunes app had a new icon for purchased tracks at the bottom. Tapping on that brought me to a new menu showing all the songs I’d purchased and a menu breaking out the ones that weren’t already on my iPod. I hit the cloud icon next to the track and it went from the network to the cloud.
A surprising fact for me: Of the couple thousand songs I have on my computer, I had purchased only a few hundred tracks through the iTunes store. The rest were painstakingly ripped from my CD collection through the years.
Unfortunately, the paid part of iTunes in the Cloud — iTunes Match — hasn’t been released yet. That service would have matched my ripped tracks to the cloud for a fee of $24.95 a year.
Once iCloud launches I can upload my tracks to my 5GB data locker myself, for free — though it would take quite a bit of time.
All in all, iTunes in the Cloud was a smooth experience, but it’s too early to tell how useful it will be.
I am pretty sure that Google and Amazon (not to mention other online music sites) are breathing sighs of relief that Apple didn’t come out with a streaming service, too.
As iTunes in the Cloud stands now, it’s a convenient way to manage personal files, and it is expected to get better with the full release this fall. But it’s still not exactly what we were expecting — and that’s a bit of a disappointment.