I’ve been using iTunes Match for about a month now. I actually like it a great deal. Surprisingly since I was pretty cautious about signing up. However being able to get all my songs when I want them on any of my devices is pretty nice. I’d read about tracks that Apple wouldn’t pick up. I have a few of those but nothing major thus far.
There are some big annoyances – mainly on iOS. For instance while you can select playlists to download in iOS there’s no way to do the opposite. That is you can’t select tracks to delete from your iOS device. You’re stuck with trusting iOS to delete songs as you start to run out of space.
The problem with this is that if you are planning on filming videos, it’s nice to try and maintain 5GB free so you never have any problems. Maybe this won’t cause problems but I confess I’m a tad skeptical. Plus, honestly I’m not going to be listening to those Christmas playlists until next December. Wouldn’t it be nice if they disappeared from my device?
There is a workaround. You first turn iTunes Match off. Then you delete the songs and re-enable iTunes Match. But that’s a hack and hardly something one really wants to do.
An other annoyance on iOS is that you can’t select a single song to download. The big advantage of iTunes Match was for those days you were out and about and had that one song you really wanted to hear. Back in iOS5 you could apparently select the song and start it playing. In iOS6 that functionality is gone. It’s completely unclear why Apple would remove it.
My final annoyance with the service is that there’s not a quick and easy way to switch between displaying your full library and just those songs on the device. When I’m at work or home I have WiFi and want to see everything. When I’m in my car I only want to see what’s available. It used to be that you could limit downloading to only apply on WiFi. That option appears gone — at least in the latest version of iOS I’m running. I’m not sure if that means they simply won’t download over cellular or if it will download over cellular. If the later then that’s pretty bad – you could accidentally play a full album using up dozens of megabytes of data.
There are some neat tricks you can do with iTunes Match such as upgrading your tracks to the iTMS versions. (Keep your backups in case they don’t match exactly)
Honestly while I used to be a huge user of iTunes Home Sharing the fact is that iTunes Match works much, much better. I used to have a wish list that OSX would allow me to take part of my music library synced the way I synced my iPod. With iTunes Match that’s finally a reality which makes MacBook Airs that much more attractive suddenly.