Apple has just seeded iTunes 10.5 Beta 6.1 to developers in the United States. The key feature to look out for in this particular update is the implementation of iTunes Match, allowing users to upload tracks to Apple’s still-in-beta iCloud service.
The handy service, which promises to enhance the way you collate and listen to music, will eventually allow you to store your entire music collection in iCloud for a mere $25 a year – which sounds relatively reasonable. Moreover, it will only upload music from your collection which isn’t already contained in iCloud – saving a lot of time and bandwidth. So if, for example, you have the Beatles discography, iCloud can match most of it on Apple’s very own servers, if not all of that collection, and will subsequently allow you to access a 256kbps AAC version from within iCloud rather than uploading it – even if your copy is of lower quality.
To me, it seems as though there is quite a potential for exploitation. For the price of a monthly Big Mac, one could download sub-par quality music, drag it into iTunes, and have Apple subsequently store a reasonably high quality version ready and waiting for at any occasion.
Maybe, between the lines, there is more to it than that. In fact, I am certain of it, it doesn’t seem plausible that Apple could make it that easy to essentially gain unlimited access to the iTunes Store, and you would think that Cupertino would have ways of determining what is downloaded legally and what isn’t. Then again, how would they do it?
There are a few known bugs with this first beta of iTunes Match; you cannot add music to iCloud from more than one computer at a time, and there are also playback snags with iOS. Apple has suggested that devs backup iTunes libraries before installing, as any iCloud uploads at this beta stage could be subject to deletion.
To get your hands on iTunes 10.5 beta 6.1, you will need to register as an Apple developer, which costs $99 per annum. Of course, it will no doubt be available through various torrent and warez mediums within an hour or so of writing, but it makes more sense – if you have a genuine interest in the development of iTunes or iOS – just purchase the subscription and download it legally. As we have stressed before, it’s better to be safe than sorry.