Released to developers on Wednesday, the latest beta of iOS 5 contains tweaks to the iTunes Match service and iCloud. Previously, users could tap on a song they own through the iTunes Match service and it would begin playing instantly, with the file downloading and being saved in a temporary cache that would eventually be cleared.
But starting with this week's release of beta 7, anytime playback is initiated from iCloud, the song is downloaded and saved as a file in the local music library. The changes in iOS 5 were first noted by Insanely Great Mac.
Testers immediately discovered that the service allowed for songs to be instantly downloaded and played, without permanently storing the song on the device. This was initially referred to as a streaming service, though in a public comment, Apple officially preferred to use a different definition.
"Apple's system, as it's currently constructed, still requires users to keep stuff on their machine in order to play it," the company said to All Things D in a statement.
Initially, many felt the difference between "true" streaming and Apple's offering was a matter of semantics, as iTunes Match and iOS 5 still allowed users to play their music without having the song stored on the device. Instead, tracks were downloaded and kept in a temporary cache that would eventually clear.
But now, selecting a song to play will download it to an iPhone or iPad, and keep the file saved locally as part of a user's music library. Users may still choose to delete the song after listening to it, and can once again download it from iTunes as part of their iTunes Match subscription.
Unlike competing Internet-based music services, which require users to upload their personal collection, iTunes Match will scan a user's library of songs, including those ripped from their own CDs, and match the files up with the library of 18 million songs available through the iTunes Music Store. The paid service is scheduled to launch this fall.