Update 8/31: The situation is more nuanced than what appears in the above video. Read our follow-up story for more details.
Forget some of what you sort of thought you knew about Apple’s as-yet-unreleased iCloud service. Contrary to previous reporting, this $25/year personal cloud storage service will be capable of streaming music to iOS devices, meaning that you won’t have to download songs in order to hear them (though it will offer downloads too).
As of Tuesday, anyone with an Apple developer’s account has access to the iCloud beta and could have figured this out. We wish we’d ponied up the $99 fee and checked it out, but instead, we owe this news to InsanelyGreatMac.com, which produced the above video.
However, InsanelyGreatMac did get one thing wrong (in the below video): iCloud is not a “Spotify-like service,” as it claims.
Spotify streams any of over 15 million songs, whereas iTunes streams whatever you’ve purchased, downloaded from MP3 blogs, or obtained from file sharers. So it could actually reinforce the decade-plus behavior of grabbing music for free from other users’ hard drives via bit torrent, Soulseek, sneakernet, and other sources that don’t pay for tunes.
Now we know: iCloud will stream — definitely over WiFi, and, we assume, over 3G too. The next question: Will Apple allow third-party developers to build apps that stream music from these iCloud lockers? If Apple follows its own precedent with the iPod music app for iOS, they will — and that would be pretty cool indeed.
One thing we can confirm is that, as expected, iCloud will allow people to play music over AirPlay devices. So here’s how the whole system looks from a Steve’s eye view:
“Obtain” music by any means necessary –> mirror it up to iCloud with iTunes Match (no uploading required) –> stream it to up to five computers and authorized iOS devices, possibly through apps other than Apple’s own –> stream that to AirPlay-powered stereos and home entertainment systems. Pretty smooth.
Apple iCloud is slated to be released this fall. Here’s another video — this one depicting what the iCloud Music app looks like on an iPhone: