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

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 47
    jukesjukes Posts: 213member
    Who cares?
  • Reply 3 of 47
    gmcalpingmcalpin Posts: 266member
    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?
  • Reply 4 of 47
    jukesjukes Posts: 213member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 47
    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
  • Reply 8 of 47
    magic_almagic_al Posts: 325member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 47
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 47
    cameronjcameronj Posts: 2,357member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 47
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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?
  • Reply 12 of 47
    markbyrnmarkbyrn Posts: 591member
    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?
  • Reply 13 of 47
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 47
    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!
  • Reply 15 of 47
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member
    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?
  • Reply 16 of 47
    noirdesirnoirdesir Posts: 1,027member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 47
    2oh12oh1 Posts: 500member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 47
    noirdesirnoirdesir Posts: 1,027member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 47
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 47
    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....
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