iCloud: More Details Leaked

iCloud: More Details Leaked

Image courtesy of iPhoneFAQ

Apple’s iCloud music locker will not require users to laboriously upload all the music in their iTunes libraries, but will instead rely on “scan and match.”

We all know iCloud is coming at next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) — Apple itself pre-announced it.

And we already know that iCloud will:

  • Stream songs from the cloud to Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads, and maybe at some point cars.
  • Apple and the labels will charge a monthly subscription fee.
  • Songs will be matched with songs on user’s hard drives or iTunes libraries. If the sound quality of a song is poor, Apple will upgrade it with a higher-quality version.

One big question, however, is whether users will be forced to upload their music libraries to Apple’s servers.

Not according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple has reportedly struck deals with the major record labels to “scan and match” songs on users’ hard drives.

iTunes will scan users’ music libraries and make copies of the songs it finds available through the user’s Music Locker.

This is a lot easier than uploading a massive music library to the cloud, as both Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music require users to do.

It’s not clear, however, whether scan and match will be limited to songs purchased through iTunes, or will apply to music ripped from CDs, purchased from other sources, or pirated off the Net.

It’s also not clear whether the system will use tags and other metadata, or some kind of acoustic fingerprinting like Gracenote. It may be based in part on technology acquired when Apple bought Lala, a start-up company that allowed users to play music they already owned on the Web. However, LaLa’s “Music Mover” required users to upload their tunes to the cloud before they could be streamed. Apple closed LaLa in 2009 after the purchase.

Either way, Apple has signed up three of the four major record labels, according to the Journal, and is expected to finalize an agreement with Universal Music Group later this week.

Eliminating the laborious process of uploading music libraries to the cloud is a major coup for Apple, and will certainly cement iTunes’ lead as the number one digital music leader.

Can anyone else compete? Are Amazon and Google toast?

Related
  • davidk

    Not sure if I’m interested in paying extra just to be able to stream the music I allready bought.

  • Joe Kueser

    If it’s limited to songs you have purchased through iTunes (I hope not!) we should have a full locker from day one without even scanning our library. They already know what we purchased from them.

  • Aidan Cooper

    One question will be the availability of this outside of the US.  Amazon and Google’s services are US only, so I suspect Apple’s will be as well.  

  • Carlos Rincon Eckardt

    Will it be available worldwide? that’s gonna be a real interesting question to be answered on monday!

  • EasyOSX

    Do you mean metadata (3rd from last paragraph)?

  • EasyOSX

    Likely America will be first, but I have little doubt they will push the service out internationally quicker than Google or Amazon.  But we’ll have to wait and see.

  • mahimahimahi

    We are talking about apple here. I’m sure it will be the most elegant solution.  I wouldn’t mind paying for this service. 

  • cheesy1

    i personally wouldnt pay any extra

  • Jay Floyd

    If we’ve got our music on our computer, the computer is backed up, and what we want to hear is already on our digital music player…. why pay for this?  I’ve been playing with the Amazon cloud music interface, and though it’s ‘cool’, it doesn’t actually add anything to what I already have.

  • Sacks_world

    I personally could care less about the iCloud. If you really think about it, it’s worthless. And also what if your out and iCloud is down? Your screwed! iCloud, not for me.

  • sprint10

    Thank God it’s not coming from the Wall Street Journal, considering they’re such a “reliable source” 

  • cheesy11

    if they legally stream movies to say your ipad i wouldnt mind paying

  • dbwie

    Why would I pay a subscription to listen to music I already own?  I don’t see a need for such a service for me, unless it allows streaming of other content that I don’t already own.

  • S. Mulji

    My thoughts exactly.

  • Frank Gamez

    What are the four big music labels? 

  • S. Mulji

    Actually, the Wall Street Journal, when it concerns Apple rumors, is a fairly reliable source. Not 100%, but more accurate than most (other than Jim Darymple from The Loop).

  • ObviousTroll

    You wouldn’t mind paying? There’s no way Apple will release a lite version of this service, you will have to pay for it. I’ll just use a free alternative that will surely come out afterwards :)

  • mahimahimahi

    Herp Derp. Then I am going to pay because I wouldn’t mind paying. Herp Derp.

    Where is the report button? You are an obvious troll.

  • devunish

    A better title would have been iCloud: More Details Rain Down

  • Luis Rodriguez

    Hehe, hey! He raised a legitimate question. What should I pay a MONTHLY fee for playing the music I already own? There is no way I’m going to pay twice. I’ll be willing to pay an annual fee, maybe $99 for a music locker plus all of the other  ”me” services.

  • V10LETBLUES

    Amazon and Google are not toast. They have shown time and again that they are perfectly able to follow apple’s lead and copy their ideas.

  • Scoop

    Apple wouldn’t roll out a cloud model wherein you pay retail for a song/album and then pay a monthly fee for cloud access to the same song/album. It’s just not going to work like that. We’ll find out about the details at WWDC. Anyone that suggests that is going to be the model is nuts.

  • prof_peabody

    No offence but this was all known yesterday and probably the day before as well.  
    Hardly “new details.”

  • Jens Hauge

    I like Amazon’s 20 gig cloud that I got for 99 cents, just for buying an album on sale. If apple charges much (and I think that they will), then count me out.  

  • Jens Hauge

    I hope you’re right.

  • lkahney

    Yeah, good point, like a souped up version of Amazon Cloud Player when you buy a new tune. 

  • lkahney

    I doubt it’ll be international. Music licensing is a hairball, especially across territories. Plus, the WSJ says Apple still hasn’t even signed up music publishers here in the US.

  • lkahney

    ha ha. good one. we’ll use that next week for the actual announcement.

  • kcdk99

    I hope it has streaming of “other” songs such as Pandora.  That is the only way I would use this service.  I barely listen to my songs on iTunes now because I don’t like to hear the same ones over and over again… and there’s no way I’m going to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to build a big iTunes library that will be outdated after a few years anyway and will just use my 2 GB of bandwidth for songs that will play more-conveniently directly from my iPhone.  I have used MobileMe from the beginning, but if it doesn’t go free or include iCloud features that do more than just play my own songs, I will be sticking to Pandora Premium for my music and dropping MobileMe for good old GMail which has better features (e.g. filtering) for free.

  • Rob Fernando

    Technology killed the music industry. No one buys CD’s anymore, it’s all just 99 cent downloads for single hit tracks. The only thing that can pump more $ into the industry is a subscription based service similar to Rhapsody. I would pay $ for access to music library larger than my own. Limit it how you will, hours of listening, GBs size, whatever. Give me value and I will pay.

  • Ta

    >Apple and the labels will charge a monthly subscription fee.

    If only there were a portable device that allowed me to carry the music I already purchased with me :-)

    Anyway, why would I pay a subscription for music I already paid for?  If I’m going to pay for a subscription, I would subscribe to Rhapsody or (shudder) Napster and get access to music I don’t own.

    Tony

  • Beto Diaz

    I highly doubt it. I’m still waiting for a Music tab to appear in my countries iTunes store! (Nicaragua).

    I hope its not based on music purchased thru iTunes.

  • Hilton979

    Gonna be some backlash, imo. They let the “MobileMe is going free” rumors take hold. Too many people are expecting a free MM. If they don’t go free on that, a lot of people are gonna hit the doors for Google.

  • freediverx

    More than likely, music streaming will only be one part of a broader range of cloud services which, on the whole, may be quite appealing for the price.

  • Travis284

    This would only be useful if this was kind of a mobile me thing for music. As soon as I buy a song on my computer it automatically gets synced to all of my devices. Now that would be cool!

  • freediverx

    Or… some formerly MobileMe services will now be free and for a monthly fee they will add premium services such as music streaming.

  • freediverx

    The catch there is that mobile devices have limited storage so there would have to be some way for the user to manage which songs to sync on which devices – which could manifest itself as a sort of wireless itunes sync. Interesting, but not quite as automatic as it sounds at first.

  • www.onlybestgame.com

    Let’s see the details from apple in this coming week :)

  • forceusr

    With the telco’s imposing caps on home bandwidth, and the mobile companies limiting bandwidth, I personally have little interest in hardcore “streaming.”

  • Dave Berry

    Hopefully they will merge the best of  iTunes(content), Rhapsody(play offline), Pandora(streaming) and Amazon(private storage) into 1 nice package for $10/month. They’ll make a killing. Btw, call me paranoid but while I love the idea of them seeding the iCloud with my purchased content, I have to think the whole scanning of the drive thing is a concession to the labels to get stats and maybe the goods on illegal content.

  • Aj Tk427

    Hmmm, 10/month is kind of steep to only stream music you already own.  If that was 10/mnth to stream any music in the iTunes library I can see that.  Netflix is only 8/mnth to stream any movies they have.  20/year for the ability to stream music you own is probably more in line.

  • Dave Berry

    exactly, stream and subscribe/download(not purchase) DRM music to multiple devices. Combine that with a healthy server side private library for those things you cannot get on itunes and very good radio like pandora has and it would scream.

  • m3kw

    Look man, Apple is not going to let you listen to pirated songs to their iCloud, the labels will not allow it, Apple will lose money. The iCloud will be a “free” service, buying a song on iTunes also pays for being able to play the song on iClouds. I may actually buy a few songs on iTunes just because I can to play songs on the iCloud. Or maybe songs that were not purchased from iTunes can still be played in the iCloud, but in a radio type quality, or even with some Ads (doubtful for ads).  Letting people play songs not purchased on iTunes is like Apple allowing books brought on Amazon to be downloaded on their iBooks store as well.

  • m3kw

    The subscription plays songs you own and don’t own.  I guess there will be 2 tiered pricing: Unlimited High quality (320k) and Unlimited normal quality(128k).  I don’t see them having a price option limiting you to how many songs you can play as you can only play a max number of songs per day anyways. (4min per song = 800 songs in 24 hours), realisitcally 4 hours of real listening average(high guess) equals 80 songs. Therefore, they will have the price scheme I’ve came up with.

  • m3kw

    i heard they sold couple billion songs for 99 cents each.  

  • m3kw

    They’re going to give you options, you can have your locker where you upload all your songs and pay for storage/streaming fees.  Or you can have stream for free any songs you’ve already brought on iTunes. Or you can pay a subscription to play any songs. 

  • Chris Webber

    More than likely your audio files will have some DRM that will have to match what is on the cloud already, hence the record label involvement. I seriously doubt Apple will allow pirated music to stream on it’s servers or independent music you bought straight from the artist.  It will probably only be songs purchased through iTunes.

    Granted, Google Music requires you to upload your library but you are not limited on what you can upload, which I am sure Apple will do, hell, they control every other aspect of their users experience.  But, maybe I am wrong but doubt it.

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

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