How Apple iCloud And iTunes Match Will Work: The Unofficial FAQ

Now that iCloud and iTunes Match have been unveiled, a few questions may remain. How does the iCloud-Match combo differ from Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Music Beta and Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Cloud Drive? How does it improve on MobileMe? We’ve waded through these questions and more:

»  What kinds of data/files can you put on the iCloud? Aside from music (MP3 and AAC files) users can store iBooks, apps, pictures, e-mail and documents. iCloud will store photos for only 30 days. Amazon’s Cloud Drive can store photo and video. Google offers e-mail (7.6GB for free) and document storage (1GB free then 25 cents for each extra GB) through Gmail and Google Docs, respectively.

»  How much does it cost? iCloud is free and comes with nine applications, including iTunes. iTunes Match, however, will cost $24.99 per year. Here, users can sync up to 25,000 songs not purchased through the iTunes Store among their computers and gadgets.

»  How much data can you store in iCloud? 5GB. Music, apps, and books purchased through iTunes, as well as your Photo Stream, don’t count against your free storage.

»  When can I use it? iCloud and iTunes Match will be available this fall.

»  Can I use it on all my devices and computers? According to the latest revision of the iTunes Terms and Conditions, you can auto-download or download previously purchased “eligible content” to 10 “associated” devices. Up to five can be iTunes-authorized computers. A device can only be associated with one account at a time and can only be switched every 90 days.

»  How does iCloud differ from MobileMe? The concept is the same: syncing your data among your Apple-branded mobile devices. Since iCloud is a new service, it’ll enable syncing of apps, docs, iTunes and iBooks in addition to just mail, contacts, calendar and photos, which MobileMe had offered. MobileMe, which debuted three years ago, was $99 per year and will close down on June 30, 2012. It is no longer accepting new subscribers.

»  Can I read iBooks on a Mac or PC? iBooks can be purchased via computer but can only be read on iOS devices.

»  How do the music offerings differ from that of Google’s and Amazon’s? Because Google and Amazon haven’t secured rights with record labels, users of Music Beta and Cloud Drive have to upload their entire libraries to each service before they can be accessed online and through the mobile apps. Music purchased from can automatically be stored in Cloud Drive; Google, on the other hand, does not have a music store.

»  How does the price compare with our major music services, like *Google* Music Beta, and *Amazon* Cloud Drive? Google Music Beta is free but available through invitation only. Amazon Cloud Drive offers 5GB (or about 1,000 songs) for free to users with an account. After that, it costs 20GB for $20 per year, then $1 per GB in increments of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000.

»  How does iTunes Match work? iTunes figures out which songs in your existing collection are available in the iTunes Store. From here, the matches are automatically added to your iCloud library so you can listen to your music on any of your Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) devices.

»  How is the sound quality? Music played through iTunes in the cloud will play at 256 Kbps quality, even if the original copy of a song is of lower quality.

Anything else you want to know about these new services? Leave requests in the comments below.