Apple has — at long last — introduced the final component to its iCloud suite of apps, iTunes Match. The $24.99 per year service allows users to match all of their current iTunes tracks in the iCloud regardless of whether or not they bought their music from Apple.
So, if you’ve ripped all the tunes off of your favorite 20-disc collection that Apple has, serendipitously, available in its own iTunes store, you can match those tunes to the cloud and listen to them at work, home or at the gym on your iPod or iPhone for just the price of the subscription fee.
To get the service, you’ll have to upgrade to the latest version of iTunes, 10.5.1, available today. The option for iTunes Match is right below the option for the iTunes store. You’ll be able to use the service on up to 10 devices.
Some users who noticed the upgrade immediately had some problems accessing Apple’s servers to subscribe, but the problem seems to have largely gone away about an hour after the download went live.
As some users have pointed out, in some ways Apple is offering a $25 per year amnesty to music pirates, who will be able to match their pirated tracks. And, in some cases, they’ll even get them in higher quality, since Apple will play back any song at 256-Kbps, regardless of the state of the original track.