Apple's iTunes Match feature has been delayed since the iOS 5 update came out over a month ago, but Apple is getting close to launching the unique cloud-based service to the public. The only people who have been able to use the service so far are developers, and Apple sent them an email saying the iTunes Match debut was close at hand, tech blog 9to5mac.com reported.

iTunes Match will let Apple users store their music collections in the cloud so that songs can be synced up to all their laptops and mobile devices. So you can take your songs that you saved on your MacBook from a CD, and using iTunes Match, send them to the cloud so they can be retrieved with your iPod or iPhone with no syncing needed. Sure, it costs $25 per year, but if you have a large music collection that you didn't buy on iTunes, as long as the song exists in the iTunes catalog, it can be stored by Apple and streamed to whatever device you want.

With iTunes Match, tracks and playlists that are uploaded to iCloud using iTunes Match are then made ready for streaming playback via the Music app. Additionally, it will be possible to download individual tracks to keep them on any iOS device for offline listening. One thing to keep in mind is that this only works over your 3G connection, not over Wi-Fi. In order to sync music over Wi-Fi, you have to enable that function by connecting your iOS device to your Mac with Apple's USB-to-dock-connector cable and in the iTunes Summary screen you have to check the box Sync With This Device Over Wi-Fi.

One more cool feature of iTunes Match is that all the music iTunes matches plays back from iCloud at 256-Kbps AAC DRM-free quality. It does this even if your original copy was of lower quality.

Tell us in the comments if you think $25 a year is a good price for iTunes Match.