I’ve been a paying subscriber of iTunes Match since it was first available in an iTunes developer beta in late August. As you’d expect it was pretty buggy in the early stages but improved somewhat over time. The official release of iTunes Match this month still seems premature to me. While it achieves the task of storing my music library in the Cloud for playback on iOS devices just fine, things look a bit different when it comes to other features that come with iTunes.
No Genius in iOS 5
The Genius feature, introduced in iTunes 8, automatically generates a playlist of songs from the user’s library which are similar to the selected song. I’m using this feature a lot because my library is quite extensive and Genius surprises me every now and then with a song that I didn’t know I even had. However, if you enable iTunes Match on iPhone or iPad, the Genius feature will not be available anymore. Yep, Genius has left the building. Also missing are the dynamically created, genre-based Genius Mixes playlists.
Smart playlists not working
On my iOS devices, the names of the smart playlists are being synced. However, they contain either no or all songs in my entire library. They’re completely useless on my iPhone/iPad at the moment.
No higher quality conversion
I own a lot of lower bitrate (lower than 256 kpbs) 1980’s/1990’s stuff where iTunes Match was able to match the song in iCloud’s iTunes music database. Unfortunately, iTunes doesn’t offer me to to download the higher quality version from the iTunes Store to replace the local version for any of them. The only songs available for download in a higher quality are a handful of CD-ripped Neil Zaza instrumental guitar tracks for which iTunes Match was unable to detect the exact bitrate (most likely because Neil just shreds too hard). In fact, the version iTunes offers in these cases are of lower quality than the tracks existing in my local library. Obviously, I’m not gonna replace those.
With the absence of Genius and my carefully crafted smart playlists, listening to my music library is a lot less fun on my iPhone/iPad. I’d expect Apple to extend the subscription period for free until these bugs have been fixed but I know that might be wishful thinking.