Last night, we reported that Apple opened up a beta version of its upcoming iTunes Match service to developers. iTunes Match is a music-mirroring utility that allows you to store music in Apple’s iCloud without needing to upload all of your tracks.

In our exclusive video demo of iTunes Match, we showed you how the service seems to allow you to “stream” your music from the cloud, without needing to download the files. But Apple just told AllThingsD that that’s not necessarily the case…

“An Apple spokesperson confirms that any music you want to access from your cloud-based “locker” will still need to be stored on your iPad, or iPhone, or whatever device you’re using to listen to the song.”

So wait a minute, if the music isn’t streaming, then how are you able to instantly start playing music that isn’t stored on your device? And why, as you can see in the video below, doesn’t the service work without an active internet connection?

MG Siegler sums it up:

“You can argue semantics, but if you hit a button and a song instantly starts playing before it’s fully downloaded to your machine, that’s streaming.”

He goes on to point out that Apple is likely avoiding the term “streaming” right now for legal purposes. If it called it “streaming,” that would mean that the company would have to hash out another deal with the record labels.

All together, Apple has been very vague about the technology used in its iTunes Match service. Hopefully we’ll know more once it’s released to the public this Fall. What’s your take, does iTunes Match stream music?

  • Tob

    A demo of 3G streaming speeds would be very nice.

  • “Streaming” is a bad name to begin with, applied to too many different technologies.

    Are webpages streamed to you? The question obviously makes little sense, but the exact same technology delivers webpages, or file downloads, or streaming audio.

    Streaming, in a sense, is downloading while simultaneously playing. So in that sense, yes, they could be said to be streaming. However, the legal definition of streaming for licensing purposes pretty much excludes the concept of saving the contents of that stream to a more permanent medium.

    Most likely the way they’re making Match work is to try to predict what you’re going to listen to (perhaps in a playlist manner) and then downloading the files to your device early, while playing from the beginning. So you’re likely only “streaming” for the first song in the playlist.

    If they are being smart about it, and your available files in the cloud match those on your computer and possibly on your device as well, then they could play from whatever files you already had locally while downloading the ones you didn’t in the background, to play later. Then they can use essentially all of the free space on the device for temporary storage, deleting cached files when more space is needed.

  • Brains530

    It seems that they dont like the term streaming because you can only “stream” songs you already own, whereas with most streaming applications you can stream any song you want

  • Moreover, why are you using Vimeo?


  • Joe

    The purpose of streaming a collection of music would make more sense on say the Apple TV2, which is more what I would have used a streaming feature for. Currently the stock Apple TV2 only streams from Itunes. Like most people I have have jailbroken my Apple TV2 to allow media connections bypassing Itunes. The real benefit would be to be able access your music without even having to have your computer on. So streaming from your storage lock in the apple cloud would make sense in that case.