Apple announced its major new cloud initiative today and while most of the features won’t launch immediately, Apple is releasing a new beta version of iTunes today that brings over the air music and app syncing features to OS X and iOS devices. With iTunes in the Cloud, users will be able to quickly download music they have purchased in the past from iTunes without connecting their devices to a computer. On iOS devices, users can now also see which apps, songs and books they have bought but not downloaded onto this specific device yet and which ones they have purchased in the past and maybe uninstalled since then.
With iTunes’ new $25 per year ‘matching’ feature, those who don’t usually buy their music from iTunes will also be able to sync their current collections with their iOS devices within just a few minutes, but this feature won’t go live until later this year.
While we’re still waiting for Apple to release iTunes 10.3 (it will go live later today), you can already experience some of these iCloud features by going to the iTunes, iBook and App stores on your iOS device. A new ‘purchased’ tab now appears in all of these (in the app store, it’s hidden behind the ‘updates’ tab).
Most of the more advanced features of iCloud, including automatic backups, document syncing and photo stream, won’t become available until later this year (likely because they also require iOS 5 to work properly), but if you want to get a taste of what iCloud will feel like, you can do so now with iTunes in the Cloud.