There were plenty of grumbles when Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs announced iTunes in the Cloud but didn’t show off a streaming music component. Without that feature, the company’s $24.99 per year iTunes Match service — which will give customers cloud versions of songs that they hadn’t bought from iTunes — hardly seemed worth the price to most people.
But now, a video from Insanely Great Mac of the developer beta version of iTunes Match reveals that the company has enabled cloud music streaming, after all. Users will have the option to download tracks from the cloud to local storage on up to 10 devices, but they’ll also have the option to listen (with apparently very little lag) without having to put files on their local storage. The streaming service appears to work over WiFi and 3G.
That one feature sets Apple up to play hardball with Google Music Beta and Amazon Cloud Player in the future. With the triple threat of the iTunes store, streaming music and the convenience of automatically uploading customer libraries, iTunes in the Cloud has become a more formidable foe. It now matches the convenience of a service like Spotify or Rdio, for a little over $2 per month.
Of course, there’s more to iCloud than iTunes, but the ability to actually listen to your music without having to load up your iPhone or iPod with your library makes the service much more appealing.