Apple promised to once again change the way we work, relax and listen to music with the release of its iCloud service in October. When it was first announced at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, the late, great Steve Jobs said it would demote the personal computer to be “just another device.” For those who aren’t familiar with cloud computing, it’s a pretty simple premise. Users are given access to massive servers that can store documents, emails, calendars and contacts. The advantage is that all this different information can be stored remotely, giving the user the ability to access it from any device without having to expend any on-board memory. Apple’s iCloud gives iPhone, iPad, Mac/PC and iPod Touch users an initial 5MB of storage that they can use whatever they please, sort of. Users can choose to upgrade their account at 15GB for $20/year, 25GB for $40/year, or 55GB for $100/year. While you can access your iTunes library across devices through the cloud, the files are not actually stored in the cloud. This is where things get a little screwy. The iCloud service scans a user’s iTunes library and makes a detailed account of all the purchases; it doesn’t store song files. It will, however, allow free re-downloads for any content that has been paid for. This is great for those who have a digital music collection completely made up from iTunes purchases. But let’s be real here: Paying for music went out of fashion at the tail end of the Clinton administration. So what about all those pirated files? What about albums you ripped from a CD? Apple has a solution — its iTunes Match service. For $25 a year users can access their complete iTunes library, streamed to any iCloud-enabled device. The way the iTunes Match service works is actually pretty slick. Apple made a deal with nearly all the major music labels to get licensing rights for a massive music collection, which it stores on the iCloud. Once a user signs up for the service, Match will scan an iTunes library and match the tracks to the ones available for Apple’s collection. Then users can access this music from any device connected to the iCloud. For tracks that aren’t in Apple’s library, mainly independent bands and acts that don’t use the mainstream music supply chain, iTunes Match allows users to upload files as well. In all, each iTunes Match account can store up to 25,000 songs. Tracks purchased from iTunes do not count in this total. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is the ability Match has to replace lower bit-rate files with 256Kbps AAC DRM-Free quality. In non-nerd talk that means music files sound nearly indistinguishable from their original recordings. To make things easier to understand Apple says the iTunes Match service “streams” music, though this is a bit of a misnomer. Despite the file being instantly accessible from any device, the file is still physically downloaded to the device. While Jobs declared the iCloud service a game-changer, if it were possible he would likely retract that statement when it comes to its music features. Apple’s sworn enemy Google has one-upped them with a true streaming music service: Google Music. Google’s service allows users to upload up to 20,000 songs that can be accessed on any device running the Google Music App. And yes, they made an iOS version. The best part about Google’s service is that it is free to use. The service was recently expanded to include a store with 13 million songs and users can share purchased tracks with their Google+ friends, which is awesome because who doesn’t uses Google+? (Don’t worry, Google, they can’t all be home runs.) Users should be warned, though: Any type of service like this requires a data connection of some sort. Both cloud-based music apps will use up a ton of data. For those without an unlimited data plan this can get pretty costly. It should be noted, though, that most of the other iCloud features use a relatively low amount of data.