If you own an Apple product, you’ll understand what I’m talking about when I complain about the hassle of syncing a music library of 16GB+ in size with each individual device you want music on.
If like me, you bought the 16GB base model of iDevices, choosing what music you decide to put on becomes a time-consuming task. The effort involved is endless. It’s picking the songs you want, creating individual playlists and then there’s the limited space on each device, meaning you have to sift through your library being even more particular about what you do and don’t want. Then of course there’s the syncing process which takes up its fair share of time as well!
To put it bluntly, trying to manage & update two different gadgets with a single synchronised music library is a little too much work for my liking.
iTunes Match: My Saving Grace
After a little digging around, I came across iTunes Match, a £21.99 service from Apple that allows you to synchronise your music library across all of your iOS devices (it doesn’t matter where you’ve bought your music). What that means for users with a huge library (like me) is that we can stop putting all of our music physically on our iDevices. Instead, through Wi-Fi or mobile data, I can now stream songs through iCloud – leaving me with plenty of space for other media like games, movies, books and so on.
As a Backup
Physical hardware can be unreliable at times. There’s always a risk that your computer or external hard drive will either stop working, or an accident like letting it slip out of your hand will damage it beyond repair. Luckily, iTunes Match works fantastically as a back up since it simply matches your existing library to the songs available on iTunes. Whenever you want that particular song physically back on your device – just hit download.
The same applies for iTunes on your desktop. I re-downloaded my entire library and had a pleasant surprise when I saw that iTunes automatically gave me back higher quality versions of my songs with most of the artwork attached!
Getting Set Up
The set up process wasn’t as easy as I hoped, but after reading other reviews on it I was prepared to take the gamble. It’s simply a case of iTunes accessing your library, matching your songs to what is currently on iCloud and uploading the artwork. The frustrating part came when certains songs weren’t matched and the process had to be restarted for that section of the library. In fairness though, when dealing with 16GB+ of music, you’re bound to come across some hiccups along the way.
What Isn’t So Great
The problem with streaming anything, is the complete reliance on an Internet connection. Lose that, and you lose instant access to your music. Even so, iTunes Match is clever in the way it streams music to your device as it keeps previously streamed songs stored for later access – even when you don’t have connectivity. You may not have access to your entire library, but I suppose having those songs is a good enough compromise when you’re without a connection.
With that in mind, iTunes Match isn’t for everyone. I commute to work using public transport, meaning I have to use my 3G mobile data (all 2GB of it!) on my journeys but then use WiFi at work and home – so it works for me. For somebody with little or no access to constant WiFi – I don’t think I could recommend this from a cost-effectiveness point of view.
My Final Verdict
If I had to, I would recommend iTunes Match with confidence. All in all, it has saved me from having to purchase a more expensive device with more memory, given me space for more media, provided me with a safe backup location for my songs and is there on demand wherever and whenever I need it.