Apple took longer, but its music cloud is quicker, more affordable, and friendlier to content owners. At the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco today, Steve Jobs introduced a number of cloud-enabled music features, all part of a broader iCloud rollout.
As part of the iCloud upgrade, any iTunes Store song purchases will be instantly available across a range of devices. During the presentation, Jobs officially ‘demoted’ the PC to just another device, and made clear that we now live in a post-PC world of total connectivity and multiple access points. Which sort of looks like this from the vantage-point of music:
These features are available now – in beta form in the US – as part of the 10.3 iTunes upgrade. Or, more specifically, iOS 4.3.1 on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (3rd and 4th generation), iPad, iPad 2, Mac or PC. And, songs can be downloaded to various devices without a separate sync.
Then, this fall, Apple will deliver iTunes Match, which promises to match thousands of high-quality tracks in ‘minutes, not weeks’ (with over 18 million songs and counting in iTunes.) In fact, many songs will find their quality upgraded to 256 kbps AACs. That service will be part of a $24.99 yearly package, and Apple has secured licensing to roughly 18 million songs. Others will be manually uploaded.
And yes, Apple is keeping track.
And, the music component was just one piece of a much broader rollout. That includes a freshly-unwrapped iOS5, a white iPhone 4, and more. Check out the entire Apple presentation stream here.