Apple Music was designed to give us a central place for all of our music. A big part of that missive is iCloud, and the fiddly iTunes Match, which now resides in Apple Music. Did iTunes Match improve, though? The jury is still out.
Though Apple never outright said as much, slipping iTunes Match into the juggernaut that is Apple Music seemed to be the plan all along. It was one part rebranding a conceptually popular service that worked poorly, and one part helping us forget it ever even existed because — well, it works so poorly.
Problems with iTunes Match never seemed to receive a fix, and there was no way to have them addressed when the software screwed up. Clean versions replacing explicit tracks, tracks that only play halfway through or are “matched” with a track that is not the same even when the original track was fine continued to dog the program well after it launched.
Did iTunes Match improve when ensconced in Apple Music? In my own testing, it’s fine. I also didn’t transfer my library until just before Apple Music launched, and I had no playlists (I was/am a Play Music All Access subscriber).
I also wasn’t an iTunes Match user ahead of Apple Music, so as a new subscriber — no problems. I did give iTunes Match a go some time back, but didn’t see much use for it at the time.
Others aren’t having the luck I’ve had (so far), though. Many reports of Apple Music altering libraries in iCloud are popping up. Album artwork being changed and tracks being moved to albums where they don’t belong seem to be common issues in the early days of Apple Music.
Some users are even reporting tracks they had saved on their phones went missing when they switched to Apple Music. One user reports his Beatles anthology was stripped from his device, which seems to be the iTunes Match software living inside of Apple Music proactively removing tracks it found a match for but hasn’t replaced.
It’s worth pointing out that iTunes Match can still be used independently of Apple Music; not everyone will sign up for the new service, after all. Apple isn’t forcing a merger of the two, but the back-end service is the same.
There’s also an eyebrow-raising report that Apple is applying Digital Rights Management (DRM) to iCloud music files, even when the tracks were yours to begin with; iTunes Match doesn’t do that. It’s a fork in the road between all-in streaming and ownership of music, and neither lane is deal.
Sadly, iTunes Match is still fussy, even if Apple wants to call it a “feature” of Apple Music. New users may not have a problem, but existing iTunes users may encounter potentially annoying issues. It’s probably best to make sure you’ve backed your library up if you haven’t yet — just in case
iTunes Match Apple Music wreaks havoc.