Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs unveiled one of his patented “one more things” Monday at WWDC 2011: iTunes Match. With 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, Apple has created software that scans one’s hard drive for songs that are available in the iTunes Store and awards that music the same benefits as a song purchased through iTunes, which means it will allow iTunes users to get in on the iCloud magic announced earlier.
iTunes Match will be available for $24.99 a year for an unlimited number of songs, Jobs said. He compared it (favorably, of course) to Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Google’s just-launched music services, noting that Apple’s service will bypass the extremely long uploading times that both Amazon and Google’s music lockers require.
Building off the work that Lala did before it was acquired by Apple, the new service scans your hard drive for songs that were ripped from CDs or obtained from other (read: questionably legal) sources. If Apple detects a match with one of the 18 million songs available through the App Store, it will replace that file on your hard drive with the same song in Apple’s AAC format, free of any DRM technology. If it can’t find a match for a song, it will upload it into iCloud, giving you access to that song across all your other iOS devices.
Apple also announced that new songs purchased through iTunes will be synced with all iOS devices under a user’s control, and songs purchased through iTunes prior to Monday can now be synced across multiple iOS devices when iTunes in the Cloud formally arrives.