Apple has, after a long wait and numerous delays, released iTunes Match today, a feature made available as part of its 'iTunes in the Cloud' offering.
The Cupertino-based technology giant has released iTunes 10.5.1 to the public, which houses the iTunes Match software.
iTunes Match determines which songs in your collection and libraries are in the iTunes Store, including ripped-CDs and pirated music, and replaces any content which is found to have better audio quality. iTunes currently downloads music at 256Kbps AAC quality, and music download is DRM-free, allowing you to take your music to any music device, laptop or smartphone.
But even though the service is now available to the public, Apple is still labelling iTunes Match as a 'beta' product, meaning bugs may still be present.
Better late than never, iTunes Match has struggled with service difficulties, missed deadlines and expiring software for testing developers. Apple had initially hoped to have the service out by mid-to-late October, but missed its deadline, leaving many users of then-unreleased iTunes 10.5.1 with an expired version of the software.
iTunes Match is not yet available outside the United States, however, with the UK and European markets at an indefinite hiatus. It is believed that the music-matching service may be released in Europe early next year, or even in time for the Christmas period.
The service costs $24.99 a year, which is not a bad price to pay to 'legitimise' your pirate music collection.
iTunes Match is part of iTunes, and is available for both Mac and Windows users. Mac users can update the software from the 'Software Update' feature, while Windows users can update from the iTunes website or within iTunes itself.