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Apple's iTunes Match beta doesn't technically stream music

post #1 of 48
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The new iTunes Match beta still downloads songs and saves them locally on a user's device, rather than providing an absolute true streaming service.

Despite evidence that appears to show streaming playback through iTunes Match, an Apple spokesperson confirmed to Peter Kafka of All Things D that content played from the service must first be "stored" on an iPhone or iPad. The service appears to be streaming because it begins playback instantly, but instead of true streaming it is downloading and storing the file while beginning simultaneous playback.

"Apple's system, as it's currently constructed, still requires users to keep stuff on their machine in order to play with it," the report said. Kafka speculated that files that are not "downloaded" through iCloud but still played will sit in a "temporary cache" on the machine.

It's unknown whether the files stored locally are of full quality or reduced bitrate, or how large the cache of content can grow, making it unclear whether the lack of true streaming is essentially a matter of semantics for the end user. Apple has been "deliberately vague" about how the iTunes Match service works.

The lack of true streaming is not a result of licensing hold-ups with record labels. Those licenses were said to have been acquired in April.

Sources in the industry reportedly confirmed to Kafka that although Apple does have the rights to streaming music, the decision to require files to be downloaded, albeit to a temporary cache, is a "philosophical/design" decision made by Apple.

"Part of it is that Apple doesn't trust the current telecom ecosystem to handle on-demand streaming of library files every time someone wants to use them -- look how much trouble AT&T has had with the iPhone to date," the report said.



"But the other part is that Apple wants its users to think of entertainment as something they consume on an Apple device -- as opposed to the Google and Amazon approach, which is supposed to let consumers grab anything they want on any device, using a browser."

Apple's approach has apparently been used to provide users with "great playback experience." The source reportedly said that Apple is "not interested" in replicating versions of cloud music that are offered by Google and Amazon.

The iTunes Match beta was issued to developers on Monday, and it allows users to replicate their music library in the cloud, matching it with content available from iTunes. When it launches this fall, iTunes Match will cost $24.99 per year.
post #2 of 48
Then why is there a download button next to the song, and why does iTunes TELL me it is an audio stream?

I think she doesn't know anything about it besides what they explained in the keynote months ago.
post #3 of 48
Who cares?
post #4 of 48
Quote:
The service appears to be streaming because it begins playback instantly, but instead of true streaming it is downloading and storing the file while beginning simultaneous playback.

Can someone clarify the technical difference here for me?

It seems like splitting hairs to me. It saves a cache file, so it's not streaming? So what? How is that not still streaming if it plays at the same time as you download a cache file?

Isn't it basically the same as a buffer?
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post #5 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by gmcalpin View Post

Can someone clarify the technical difference here for me?

It seems like splitting hairs to me. It saves a cache file, so it's not streaming? So what? How is that not still streaming if it plays at the same time as you download a cache file?

Isn't it basically the same as a buffer?

I guess the distinction they're making is that a buffer is in memory and this cache file is on disk, so the architecture is slightly different. It kind of makes sense that they would do it with a cache because these devices are generally memory starved (it keeps power consumption down) but have lots of hard disk space.

Ultimately, it makes no difference to the end user. The authoritative version is stored on the server. The cache file can be deleted as desired by the system.
post #6 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The new iTunes Match beta still downloads songs and saves them locally on a user's device, rather than providing an absolute true streaming service.

Good. That's exactly how I want it. The majority of the music that I want to listen to is on my iDevice already anyway; I just want to be able to access my entire library on the fly if needed.
post #7 of 48
How is this different than playing a sample snippet of a song on iTunes (Mac or iOS)? I am amazed at how quickly music starts playing on those previews, be it on 3G or WiFi.

I wonder if the technology behind it is the same.
post #8 of 48
given 'disk space' is now SSD and virtual storage to memory are long tooth in iOS - the difference in storing a memory cache and a 'disk' cache are imperceptible
post #9 of 48
I want to own irrevocable copies of music.

I don't know where the supposed desire for streaming is coming from but I suspect it's coming from Wall Street which wants Apple to put out cheap no-storage devices to expand their market and from telecom and media companies who dream of pay-per-use revenue streams. Apple is thinking of the user and of themselves as selling hardware that will store large amounts of data for the user.
post #10 of 48
LOL @ MG Siegler gushing about streaming on TechCrunch.
http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/30/itu...oud-streaming/
The spin on this article will be epic.

I DO hope Apple gets there with this feature one day. Will add a little more value to iCloud.
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post #11 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The new iTunes Match beta still downloads songs and saves them locally on a user's device, rather than providing an absolute true streaming service.

Which, by the way, is BETTER than streaming.
post #12 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by russgriz View Post

Good. That's exactly how I want it. The majority of the music that I want to listen to is on my iDevice already anyway; I just want to be able to access my entire library on the fly if needed.

Wouldn't streaming do the same thing for the rest of the library?
post #13 of 48
Not "true" streaming? Am I reading Cult of Mac here? If you watch the various YouTube demos that were made soon after the beta went live, the song plays immediately when hitting the title and it doesn't get stored on the device unless you select the download button. If you select the download button, it doesn't play - it downloads it. So how about getting clued in before posting?
post #14 of 48
That’s OK—a “temporary cache” still serves the two things I liked about the streaming possibility:

1. Instant start.

2. Saving space in my device: access all my music while allocating relatively little storage space. (So the “streamed” music would keep throwing out the old cached songs and replacing them with new—and no need to synch with my Mac!)

I’ll await more details, but I’m surprisingly interested in paying $2 a month for this!

R whether it’s “true streaming”: these terms have some vagueness, but I would say it is “true steaming” if the entire song is NOT downloaded; if a few seconds of read-ahead are the only data being cached. A buffer, not a download.

Whereas it sounds like iTunes Match DOES download and cache the entire file, even if it looks/feels like streaming (because it happens while you’re playing it). So technically, I don’t consider this streaming. It’s the same difference as Hulu/Netflix (“true streaming”) vs. renting an iTunes movie (“play while you download and then later it gets deleted”). This distinction is of little importance to users, but it does seem accurate to say Apple is NOT streaming in this case.

I’m not saying “true streaming” is better, though. In fact, this sounds better than “true streaming” if your iPod/iPhone loses Internet access after receiving the data: you can keep playing the cached song(s).

P.S. I hope they offer the option to receive lower-bitrate versions, to reduce data usage.
post #15 of 48
So, is the streaming piece of Itunes Match just a glorified playlist in Itunes that I don't have to copy over to my iphone, and then it will just play the full clip from the itunes store, similar to how it plays the snippets or previews of a song, which will essentially free up more space on my iphone, so that I can download wonderful apps?

cool!
post #16 of 48
It may be splitting hair. But perhaps hair splitting to get this by the lawyers, not to mention the rights holders who might be stopping Apple from true streaming?
post #17 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jukes View Post

I guess the distinction they're making is that a buffer is in memory and this cache file is on disk, so the architecture is slightly different. It kind of makes sense that they would do it with a cache because these devices are generally memory starved (it keeps power consumption down) but have lots of hard disk space.

But even existing streaming services (eg, Pandora) likely store their cache 'file' on disk and not only in memory, particularly on these low memory devices.
I think the main technical difference is that Apple's system will always store the complete file on your device (streaming services might only ever store part of a file on your device) AND that after playing the file will persist on your device (though nothing would stop Pandora to have its cache persist on disk, maybe legal ones or rather that their is no UI for the user to see and control how much and what is stored on the device).

You will likely also be able to enable a smart 'filling' of your device from the cloud that automatically deletes songs you have not listened to for while (much like the 'smart synching' in iTunes).

Edit:
Seems I wrong about the song persisting, this video seems to suggest that as soon as you navigate away from that song in the iPod app, the file has a decent chance of being deleted.
post #18 of 48
Huh? Is anyone suggesting this is a bad thing? It's most certainly not! It's a GOOD thing. It means you get - on your own hard drive - an excellent sounding song file. I'd rather have it on my Mac than just in the cloud.
post #19 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dullblade View Post

So, is the streaming piece of Itunes Match just a glorified playlist in Itunes that I don't have to copy over to my iphone, and then it will just play the full clip from the itunes store, similar to how it plays the snippets or previews of a song, which will essentially free up more space on my iphone, so that I can download wonderful apps?

cool!

And pay or MSP those wonderful overage charges.
post #20 of 48
Downloading to a temporary cache with an instant start IS streaming. To say otherwise is deeply ignorant of the way streaming works. This is what Pandora does when it streams music. This is what YouTube does when it streams video. This is the way streaming works.
post #21 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtDecoDalek View Post

Downloading to a temporary cache with an instant start IS streaming. To say otherwise is deeply ignorant of the way streaming works. This is what Pandora does when it streams music. This is what YouTube does when it streams video. This is the way streaming works.

+1

of course the only TRUE Streaming gets flushed....
post #22 of 48
Lets face it the telcos can't handle true streaming to the entire population of iOS users. More importantly they (the telcos) never will be able to handle that sort of bandwidth. Simply from the standpoint of technology and spectrum availability I can't ever see a service that relies upon streaming 100% of the time ever being a long term success.

Frankly I've never understood the desire o be able to stream anything over the air waves. It is a great experience if you have a fast hardwired internet connection, but that is about it.

From the standpoint of the user; I can't see why anybody would want to eat up their available data, streaming something that can be downloaded once and not thought of again.
post #23 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jukes View Post

I guess the distinction they're making is that a buffer is in memory and this cache file is on disk, so the architecture is slightly different. It kind of makes sense that they would do it with a cache because these devices are generally memory starved (it keeps power consumption down) but have lots of hard disk space.

Ultimately, it makes no difference to the end user. The authoritative version is stored on the server. The cache file can be deleted as desired by the system.

It might make a difference, e.g. if you want to play again you already have it assuming the cache isn't cleared. This would be awesome if you were traveling in a poor reception area for example and you can have an entire playlist downloaded already.
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post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtDecoDalek View Post

Downloading to a temporary cache with an instant start IS streaming. To say otherwise is deeply ignorant of the way streaming works. This is what Pandora does when it streams music. This is what YouTube does when it streams video. This is the way streaming works.

I'd slow up on the insults till we know more. If you were to go into a zero reception area can you now play your Pandora song you listened to yesterday again? Perhaps the Apple system would allow that. We'll see soon enough I'm sure.
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post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2oh1 View Post

Huh? Is anyone suggesting this is a bad thing? It's most certainly not! It's a GOOD thing. It means you get - on your own hard drive - an excellent sounding song file. I'd rather have it on my Mac than just in the cloud.

A copy in iCloud isn't going to take it away from your Mac. You should keep a local copy.
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by jukes View Post

Who cares?

Yep. Looks like a Duck, quacks like a Duck...
post #27 of 48
First off there are probably more ways to do streaming than can be counted on most hands. So correctness here is somewhat dependent upon how you define the concept of streaming.

For example I could argue easily that streaming would imply buffering to RAM and never to secondary storage. Thus with this definition any sort of cache on secondary storage would not be streaming.

While I'm not going to get into the way the various services stream content, what one company does is not a die against which every other service must be cut. In the case of music files there is little incentive to throw data to disk if you can buffer multiple tracks in memory.

In Apples case I would have to guess that the temporary cache is actually a buffer that self trims based on age and usage. This would have the feature of greatly reducing impact on bandwidth availability for frequently referenced tracks. Since the GUI app serving up your tunes would search here before streaming content you can't really call the system a streaming service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtDecoDalek View Post

Downloading to a temporary cache with an instant start IS streaming. To say otherwise is deeply ignorant of the way streaming works. This is what Pandora does when it streams music. This is what YouTube does when it streams video. This is the way streaming works.
post #28 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtDecoDalek View Post

Downloading to a temporary cache with an instant start IS streaming. To say otherwise is deeply ignorant of the way streaming works. This is what Pandora does when it streams music. This is what YouTube does when it streams video. This is the way streaming works.

No, because have you ever really paid attention to YouTube videos?

It downloads enough in front to play without stutter (debatable because they always seem to stutter for me because downloads here suck). If you want to go back to see something again it has to redownload that section because it's already cleared what it has played.

What Apple is saying is that the music starts playing as it downloads the entire song/video after which you can go forward and back without any delay or any redownloading because the whole file is still there.

Incidentally this is nothing new and has been handled by QuickTime for many many years now.
post #29 of 48
Quack.

I thought the cloud was simply continuous incremental synchronizing. Buy a song on your phone, poof (boom?) it's on your Mac. Rip a cd to your Mac, put it in a playlist, poof, the playlist is updated on your phone.

Obviously, there is a transfer delay, but the phone can play it before it is completely downloaded.

Turn off icloud and the syncing stops. The files do not disappear from any device.

Am i missing something?
post #30 of 48
Anyone think this is Apple's way of avoiding a copyright battle in the future or maybe even setting up one for a competitor. Just wondering.

Don't call it streaming now and you can't call it streaming later.
post #31 of 48
who cares is right
bring on more ios AWESOMENESS
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post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtDecoDalek View Post

Downloading to a temporary cache with an instant start IS streaming. To say otherwise is deeply ignorant of the way streaming works. This is what Pandora does when it streams music. This is what YouTube does when it streams video. This is the way streaming works.

But perhaps the cached music will remain on the device for a given period of time (as long as there is enough storage available) before it is purged.

The way I see this... you have your locally stored library and you have your much larger library in the cloud. As soon as you try and access music stored in the cloud it begins downloading the song to a cache NOT in the local library, where it remains for let's say 30 days before it is purged as long as no further plays have been requested. This means that if you want to re-play the 'streamed' song within the 30 day window it is not re-streamed but instead played from cache.

I wonder if your local library will store the first few seconds of every track in the cloud library in order to facilitate 'instant' play?
post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

It might make a difference, e.g. if you want to play again you already have it assuming the cache isn't cleared. This would be awesome if you were traveling in a poor reception area for example and you can have an entire playlist downloaded already.

This is exactly it. If its really streaming and you don't have a connection you are out of luck. If its what Apple appears to be doing you MAY be in luck. If iTunes keeps the file in some tempory folder until there is no space left you might be able to play a song that you last "streamed" months ago if you have space on your hard drive.

My iPhone and iPad have lots of space on them because when I load music to be synced I am never sure what I really want so I basically don't load much. Even if I filled it I might find I decided wrong and what I really want to hear I didn't sync. Under this system Apple is basically doing the math for me. I would not be surprised if when a song does need deleted the software delete the songs that are rarely played.

Apple is brilliant!
post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Lets face it the telcos can't handle true streaming to the entire population of iOS users. More importantly they (the telcos) never will be able to handle that sort of bandwidth. Simply from the standpoint of technology and spectrum availability I can't ever see a service that relies upon streaming 100% of the time ever being a long term success.

Frankly I've never understood the desire o be able to stream anything over the air waves. It is a great experience if you have a fast hardwired internet connection, but that is about it.

From the standpoint of the user; I can't see why anybody would want to eat up their available data, streaming something that can be downloaded once and not thought of again.

Actually this technology detailed here http://www.rearden.com/DIDO/DIDO_White_Paper_110727.pdf stands to finally solve the limits of wireless streaming.
post #35 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by franktinsley View Post

Actually this technology detailed here http://www.rearden.com/DIDO/DIDO_White_Paper_110727.pdf stands to finally solve the limits of wireless streaming.

Well that's good news. . Even so you need a signal so this plus Apple's approach will be awesome.
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post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

It may be splitting hair. But perhaps hair splitting to get this by the lawyers, not to mention the rights holders who might be stopping Apple from true streaming?

According to other reports, Apple has 'true' streaming rights to the tracks

My guess is that they want this pre cached info so folks don't have to wait for part of the track to download before the song starts.

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post #37 of 48
iCloud may not do streaming.... But, iCloud do do $ubscription!
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post #38 of 48
It appears to stream to me as end user. That's all that's important.
post #39 of 48
As always with Apple, it's about the user experience. They don't care if it's called "streaming" or "caching" or "buffering", and neither do their customers. Their customers care if the mirroring process is relatively painless and fast and dead simple, and they care if they can access their music from the cloud, and if it starts immediately, and if they decide to move around in the song by jumping or fast-forwarding or rewinding, that it doesn't stutter or have to rebuffer.

Right? That's the ideal experience. Where you don't really have to think about it and it acts like it's locally stored and you can get that behavior without filling the limited memory space on your mobile device.

Apple always approaches stuff this way, starting with the user experience they want and designing the tech accordingly. If the tech isn't available they jump start it with money or they wait till it is. And then everyone second guesses them because they need to know how it works and how that compares to how it's typically done and reckon someone else is doing it better because of those sort of criteria.
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post #40 of 48
Quote:
…doesn't technically stream music...

It streams electrons through a connection that is first wired and then wireless, ending at the device, which streams electrons through the device to a speaker which vibrates at various frequencies.

ALTERNATE POST:

It streams notes of various frequencies. Whether or not it's "music" is up to the listener.

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