It seems as if there will be an Apple in the cloud.
What has begun as mere rumors might now be an actuality, as Apple continues their aggressive stride towards releasing their own cloud-based music service, as the company recently signed a deal with both Warner Music and EMI Music. They are reportedly on the verge of solidifying agreements with Universal Music Group and Sony Music as well.
While Google Music (Beta) and Amazon’s Cloud Player both offer their users similar cloud services, Apple rises above the occasion by making sure their service is legally approved by recording labels.
In essence, what iCloud will do is scan a user’s hard drive and then consequently search for the same song on Apple’s (legal) online database, and subsequently queue it in the user’s online locker instead of having the user manually upload each song from their existing library.
Furthermore, iCloud will supposedly employ a patented technology that Apple calls “Sync partial music”. This essentially means, as the name implies, that only the first portions of songs are stored locally on a device with the remainder of the track stored on a remote server. So when users press “play” or skip to the next track, the songs will play instantly with no delay.
While this is also known as pre-buffering, (a capability that is not at all new since other companies such as Pandora and Spotify are already employing the same tactic), what will set Apple apart is that users will be able to choose whether songs are pre-buffered automatically or not.
Multiple sources say that at the rate that Apple is moving, the iCloud project might be revealed as early as June 6 at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.
UPDATE: 5/20 – Apple and Sony sign an agreement for iCloud.