Since its launch, Apple Music annoyed users by incorrectly matching tracks from iTunes libraries, often turning explicit or live songs to different renditions, including clean, edited versions. A report suggests that is Apple finally fixing this problem, and it appears the company had the solution in its back pocket all along.
According to prominent Apple blogger Jim Dalrymple, the company told him it is silently rolling out the best version of its iTunes Match technology into Apple Music accounts. This superior version is a big deal because it uses an audio fingerprint technology to precisely identify tracks, instead of identifying a song by its metadata (artist name, song title, etc.).
Existing iTunes Match ($24.99 per year) subscribers who also use Apple Music (9.99 per month) won't need to do anything, and they can supposedly let their yearly subscription lapse, as the steaming service will soon offer the best of both worlds. The company is switching 1 to 2 percent of users over to this service every day, so all users should expect to be switched over by the mid-September.
Why didn't Apple bake the audio fingerprint version of iTunes Match into its streaming service originally? The company may have bet that there weren't enough users that wanted to hold onto their music collections to make a difference, or it may have believed that metadata matching would be good enough.
This improved iTunes Match will not only provide better identification, but songs that were matched incorrectly using the metadata version will rematched to the correct track. Dalrymple also claims that iTunes won't "delete any downloaded copies of songs you have in your library," a nod to one user's claims that iTunes ate his music collection.
Apple won't directly tell users if they've been updated to iTunes Match, but users can find out if they have it by enabling the iCloud Status column in iTunes (in Songs view, click Command + J and check the box next to iCloud). You've got iTunes Match if you see entries listed as "Matched."
Dalrymple claims Apple is watching this feature's rollout "very closely" as to keep an eye on user experience and likely to keep an eye out for any more problems.
If this fix is as good as all involved claim it is, it's enough to bring me back to Apple Music for all of my streaming music needs. I ditched Apple Music last summer after it wrecked my library, and I found that Google Play Music took better care of my files. While I've worried that iOS 10's upgrades to the Music app offered only skin-deep changes, giving iTunes Match to all users could be the most significant change to the service yet.