Apple has released a new version of its iTunes desktop software in the US, which for the first time includes the iTunes Match feature for iCloud. That means people can start paying $24.99 a year to store the music they haven’t purchased on iTunes on Apple’s servers, streaming it to their various devices at 256Kbps quality.
As announced earlier in the year, Apple has the necessary licensing deals to provide scan-and-match features, so that people don’t have to upload songs that are already matched on Apple’s service. That sets it ahead of Google and Amazon’s rival cloud offerings, although Sony got in early this year with its Music Unlimited service, which offers scan-and-match and also Spotify-style streaming of music not owned by its users. iTunes Match is still being described as a beta service, so expect some teething issues to be reported on in the coming days. There’s no news yet on its global rollout.