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First Look: iTunes in the Cloud

Christopher Breen, | June 7, 2011
What the iCloud feature and iTunes Match bring to the music party


Re-downloading purchased music on an iPad

iTunes 10.3 offers a similar scheme. The difference, of course, is that you can do it all from within a single Mac or Windows iTunes application rather than separate apps on an iOS device. When you click on the Purchased link on the iTunes Store's Home page to visit the Purchased screen, you’ll see links to purchased music, apps, and books. Select the category you like, and the items you’ve purchased appear on screen. Click a Cloud button next to the item you want to re-download and it’s downloaded to your computer. (Although the version of the iTunes Store found in iTunes 10.3 allows you to purchase and download books—and re-download books you've already purchased—those books are still viewable only on iOS devices.)

iTunes' Purchased screen

There’s one catch for albums no longer available at the iTunes Store. According to Apple: “Previous purchases may be unavailable if they are no longer in the iTunes Store.” This means that if you purchased Frank Zappa’s catalog before it was pulled from the iTunes Store by the Zappa Estate, you can’t re-download it.

iTunes Match and the active locker As I explained in that earlier article, there are two schemes for storing music you own in the cloud. The first is to place a copy of the music you own on a server and make only that copy available to you. This is called a passive locker. Conversely, an active locker keeps only a record of the music you own and then makes one copy of that music available to multiple users.

Google’s Music Beta and Amazon’s Cloud Drive use a passive locker and require that you upload the music you own to their servers. (When you purchase music from Amazon a copy of that music is placed on the server so you don’t have to upload it.) Apple’s $25-a-year iTunes Match uses an active locker. Much like with iTunes’ Genius feature, a database of the music you have in your iTunes library (purchased as well as other music you’ve ripped or acquired) is uploaded to Apple. Once Apple has that record, you can treat that music just as you can purchased music. If you want to re-download it, you can, in 256kbps AAC format. This is a very big deal if you ripped a lot of your music in the old days as 128kbps MP3 files and then later disposed of your CDs.


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