Today, Apple has released iTunes 6.1 beta to developers. iTunes 6.1 beta is the first release to support the “scan and match” cloud access feature that Apple announced at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference.
iTunes Match is a new service that allows users to pay for an annual subscription that will make their entire existing music collection (including songs not purchased through iTunes) available from Apple’s cloud servers as well.
The service will support music collections up to 25,000 and costs $24.99 per year. The song limit does not count any songs purchased from iTunes, which are already accessible through Apple’s iCloud. In addition, the service is limited to music, and does not support the uploading of apps, audiobooks, books, movies, TV shows, ringtones or interactive content such as iTunes LP liner notes or iTunes Extras for movies.
Unlike services like Amazon’s cloud player or Google Music (yes, they still exist), iTunes Match does not require users to upload many gigabytes of data that thousands of songs would involve. iTunes makes it easy for users to store songs in the cloud by automatically scanning the user’s library and then make those same songs available through iTunes’ song catalog.
Currently, this service is available for developer testing only, and Apple warns that any content copied up to its cloud servers during the test period may be erased. Apple advises that users testing the device should back up their original songs, and not delete any songs uploaded into the service.