Apple is in the process of rolling out the more sophisticated audio fingerprint capabilities from its iTunes Match service to all Apple Music subscribers, according a new post by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop. Although Apple Music provides the ability to integrate a user’s own iTunes library tracks into a cloud-based “iCloud Music Library,” as Dalrymple’s post explains the matching capabilities of the Apple Music service have been limited in comparison to Apple’s $25/year iTunes Match service, meaning that users who subscribed only to Apple Music without also paying for an iTunes Match subscription were stuck with a “metadata version of iTunes Match” which relied on track information rather than acoustic fingerprinting to match a user’s own tracks with Apple Music’s collection, resulting in significantly less accurate results, such as live versions of songs being replaced by studio versions.
It’s unclear why Apple didn’t simply bring the acoustic fingerprinting capabilities of iTunes Match over to Apple Music in the first place; considerations may have included problems with scaling the matching technology to a larger number of subscribers or a desire to continue the original iTunes Match service as a value-added enhancement to Apple Music, encouraging users to subscribe to both services. According to Dalrymple, the upgrade to iTunes Match audio fingerprinting will also bring other iTunes Match features, including the ability to download all matched songs as DRM-free versions from the iTunes Store — for Apple Music subscribers, matched tracks were previously only available from the cloud as DRM-protected Apple Music tracks, although original copies in a user’s iTunes library normally remained untouched. Users who currently subscribe to both Apple Music and iTunes Match should be able to let their annual iTunes Match subscription lapse when it comes up for renewal without losing any functionality, while Apple Music subscribers will gradually gain new features — Dalrymple notes that Apple is presently transitioning “1% to 2% of its users every day, automatically” and closely monitoring the process to ensure a smooth migration.