Six Months of iTunes Match 

It hadn’t occurred to me until I saw a thread on Ars Technica, but iTunes Match has been out for six months now. I’ve written a bunch about it, but I figured, once again, it’d be good time to give a quick recap.

First things first

$25/year for a full backup of all of your music is worth it.
$25/year for a full backup of all of your music, while simultaneously making it available to all of your iOS devices—iPhone, iPad, Apple TV—and your other Macs and PCs, is a steal.

At this point, there is simply no reason not to buy it. Even if you don’t want to use iTunes Match on your iOS devices, it is still worth it for peace of mind, to simply have another location to have your media backed up. Go buy it.

A few things are still flakey

There are a couple of things that are still not quite perfect. For most people, these will go completely unnoticed. If you buy all your music from iTunes, or have never spent much time tweaking and caring for your ID3 data, tagging your music, or creating nested levels of smart playlists, iTunes Match is going to work like magic for you.

But if you are one of those people who curates your music carefully, you’ll find a couple of small annoyances.

Album art still doesn’t sync perfectly

I don’t understand why, or why this is a challenge to solve (I’m sure there’s a reason, but I can’t get my head around it …), but Album Art still only syncs intermittently. And only seems to do so when you’re playing music, which means if you’re listening somewhere that you don’t have a good signal (wifi or otherwise), you’re going to occasionally get some stuttering UI performance in the Music app.

Play counts don’t update

Play counts still intermittently update. Not a huge deal, but if you use a lot of smart playlists, it can bug you. It bugs me. Mostly because …

Some smart playlists still don’t quite work

If your smart playlists are based off of “Most Recently Added”, they sometimes seem to end up based off of the “most recently added” to the iOS device (when you really want “most recently added to my iTunes Match library”). Smart playlists seem to sometimes ignore the “don’t show videos or don’t show music that isn’t on my device”, which can lead to playlists where you end up downloading stuff you didn’t want.

Annoying, but probably not something everyone will bump into.

A couple of “nice to haves”

There are a couple of things that would be nice to have, that haven’t been added yet. I expect that, in the future (with Mountain Lion and iOS 6 on the horizon), we might get a set of new features and enhancements, so in a couple of months (maybe at my 9 month review), I’ll have nothing to say.

But, until then:
* We need a better way to manage music on the iPhone/iPad. Going into settings to flip the switch between “Show all music” and “Only show music on this device” is painful. That switch needs to somehow be in the Or maybe just a different UI paradigm entirely.
* In something that I think I’m the only one to ever notice, sometimes iTunes loses track of “where” a song is, i.e. is it in iCloud or on the computer. That tends to happen after music has been automatically downloaded after being purchased from the iTunes Store. It’s just weird. And it cleans itself up … sometimes.

Buy it

If you’ve bothered to read this far, and you haven’t bought iTunes Match yet, just go do it.