Despite Apple's Denial, iTunes Match is Streaming

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. MacRumors, Aug 30, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2011

    MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Yesterday, we reported that the developer beta of Apple's iTunes Match appeared to show options for both streaming and downloading content from the cloud to a user's device. But some questions have arisen about just how the service functions, as a new report from AllThingsD shares word from an Apple spokesperson that the service is not actually a streaming one.
    The difference appears to be one of semantics, however, with Apple's claims of the service requiring tracks to be downloaded actually related to local caching of streamed tracks.


    Traditional streaming services maintain constant connections, buffering only a small amount of the currently-playing track at any given time. Apple's streaming solution, in contrast, appears to download each track in its entirety once streaming begins. Upon tapping on the track to begin playing without initiating the full iCloud download process, the track begins playing immediately just as with other streaming services. But in reality, the full track appears to be downloaded to a local cache on the user's device, allowing for fast access to any portion of the track.

    Once the track has been fully played, it remains available in that cache and can be re-accessed without needing to re-stream, but it is not considered permanently downloaded and is not counted as being in the device's music library. A video from Jeff of iDownloadBlog demonstrates a streamed track being replayed after the device is put into Airplane Mode.

    As shown in the video, switching away from the cached track while in Airplane Mode appears to empty the cache, and the device is unable to replay the track if the user returns to it.

    The result is a service that acts just like a traditional streaming service, but one which may provide a better experience for users, especially in areas of unstable network coverage for those on the go. As noted by AllThingsD, the reason for Apple's implementation appears to not be due to any lack of a license for full-fledged streaming.
    Apple has officially remained vague about just how the service works, but it certainly appears that the company has employed a streaming service with expanded caching capabilities allowing for storage of an entire track. Users also have the option to download tracks directly by tapping on the iCloud icon associated with each track.

    Thanks to @insanely_great for assistance and clarification.

    Article Link: Despite Apple's Denial, iTunes Match is Streaming
  2. garylapointe macrumors 65816


    Feb 19, 2006
    Dearborn (Detroit), MI, USA
    It's Beta

    I expect their buffering (or whatever they call it) will work well, I always liked the way the original AppleTV handled it (even when streaming locally via iTunes), it aways worked great.
  3. alent1234 macrumors 603

    Jun 19, 2009
    oh noes

    i want streaming, downloading and listening offline is so ancient and low tech
  4. andi242, Aug 30, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011

    andi242 macrumors member


    Jan 27, 2009
    agreed, someone banned it from the final product today by insisting on the fact that iOS 5 beta does actually stream content.


    (Music labels won't let Apple do this, I assume. That's why Apple said it does not stream)

    Perhaps that's what they're aiming for:
  5. longofest Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    Apple is probably denying it because true streaming probably requires some sort of additional royalties from the music industry.

    I like Apple's solution from both a technical and user experience point of view.
  6. MiWall81 macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2011
    Apple TV

    I hope they figure out something similar to this for the Apple TV... I'll watch the movie Tron from my iPad through the Apple TV (on my sweet new Plasma!!)(with a great WiFi connection btw) and at times the movie will pause to allow time for more downloading (buffering). That's crazy annoying btw. And then, when I want to watch maybe a scene from 20 min ago to show my friends, it takes 30 seconds for the scene to redownload... It's annoying. Shouldn't it have already been downloaded?

    So, if this new match things works as read above, I believe my problems will be solved...!!
  7. jdechko, Aug 30, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011

    jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Wasn't there a post on MacRumors a few months ago (like before the iOS 5 preview) that detailed this? It's not a new thing.

    EDIT: Here is what I was talking about. It's not exactly the same thing as I remembered, but I'm sure that it's related.
  8. Andronicus macrumors 6502a

    Apr 1, 2008
  9. garylapointe macrumors 65816


    Feb 19, 2006
    Dearborn (Detroit), MI, USA
    I wonder if I'll be able to make a playlist of songs not on my device?

    Regardless, this is totally going to kill everyone's data plans...
  10. chrup macrumors newbie


    Feb 2, 2008
    South Eastern United States
    Music Only?

    Will the match only work with music or does it also extend to audiobooks?
  11. longofest Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    thus far we've only heard about music support.
  12. ksgant macrumors 6502a


    Jan 12, 2006
    this is more I think of Apple's way of saying it's streaming...but not really.

    "Oh, it's not streaming, it's simply downloading the track from your iCloud...but you can play the track as it's streaming...I mean...downloading. Wink wink". ;)
  13. longofest Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    Apple is arguing semantics. The article from earlier today stands: you can either stream or download your music using iCloud, with streaming meaning the content you will not permanently take up space on your device and downloading meaning it will permanently take up space on your device (unless you specifically delete it).
  14. nagromme, Aug 30, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011

    nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    At least Apple’s not playing semantics to their own benefit!

    Strictly speaking, I agree with Apple’s usage: I’d call it streaming if only a bit of the file is cached/buffered. I wouldn’t call it streaming if the entire file is cached for re-use. (But informally, I think it’s reasonable to call it streaming since the distinction makes little difference to the end user.)

    Either way works great for users. (Caching the whole file is probably better, in fact, for the sake of re-plays; and still doesn’t take up permanent storage since it can be overwritten by newer songs you’re receiving.)
  15. alectheking macrumors 6502a

    Mar 9, 2010
    My experience so far with iTunes match..

    ..has been sorta mixed. First off it only matched 30 of my 700 songs and then uploaded the rest. I'm not exactly sure how you are supposed to download your music to your device without going through each artist individually. I don't want all my past purchases downloaded either, just the music that's on my Mac. I've noticed that on my iPhone, if I try to "stream" a song and avoid hitting the cloud button, it works just fine. However every song that I have played has been put into my "songs" list, so when I flip the switch that says "show all music", the songs I went and played earlier were actually now on my device storage. Could this be what apple means? I'm still rather confused on how iTunes Match is gonna work out, still seems rather cumbersome to use.
  16. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003


    This streaming approach sounds very, very similar to what Spotify does.
  17. eastercat macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    You need to learn to read the entire article. :rolleyes:
    You are streaming and downloading. Whenever I stream, I occasionally come across congestion and my music is interrupted. This solution keeps your music from being interrupted too much. I think this is a better solution.
    If you don't want the song on your device, it looks as though you can delete it from the local player. Unless you have limited use of your fingers, you can delete the song.
  18. bengtc macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2008
    So will you have to manually delete the song after you are done listening to it???
  19. JAT macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    So, an entire company that is pedantic. That's new.
  20. MvdM macrumors regular

    Apr 27, 2005
    So with iTunes Match you can listen to music that is on your iPod. How nice is that.
  21. logandzwon macrumors 6502a

    Jan 9, 2007
    eek! I guess that is why they opened the beta!
  22. Carouser macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2010
    What? I think you don't get it.
  23. tipp macrumors regular

    Sep 9, 2010
    It is fast progressive download, not technically streaming

    You kind of allude to it in the article, but technically Apple is correct and is wrong. With slower internet connections in the past, the difference was more pronounced, but it is almost invisible to the user now. As a web developer, I've had to explain this to clients many times over the years.

    True streaming breaks the file up into smaller pieces and only caches portions after where you start playing. If you could start in the middle of the song, the beginning of the song would not exist in the cache. The music app doesn't appear to allow that though, and given the nature of mobile connections, it's probably for the better. This still feels and behaves very similar to real streaming, but Apple is correct to point out that it is not actually streaming.
  24. bushido Suspended


    Mar 26, 2008
    still see no point in the whole thing besides making legal files out of your pirated tunes. i dont think i can be bothered downloading a song/whole album while i'm outside, i might as well just put it on while i'm still at home. people sure can't be that lazy? the fact that u can now even sync wireless makes it even less exciting imo. and dont start the whole "but it saves space" well it doesnt as u apparently have to download it anyway. such a weird idea

    i only find it useful for when i want to hear a single random song i want to hear desperately thats not on my iPhone/iPad ... oh wait i cant bc i dont own it and therefore cant listen to it anyway ...

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