The biggest of fall 2011 in downloading, streaming and gaming. In a fall that's sure to be filled with eye-catching apps, talked-about music services and innovative videogames, these three are likely to make the most noise.
ITunes Match, an upcoming feature of the iCloud service that's due this fall from Apple, is sure to make Apple a major player in cloud music. ITunes Match will let users store their entire music collection of up to 20,000 songs-purchased from iTunes or not-for $24.99 per year. The scan-and-match function will create an online duplicate of a music collection without the need to upload files. Expect updates of the iTunes desktop app and mobile apps to allow users to stream their iTunes Match songs at 256kbps iTunes Plus quality. ICloud is already on the market. Current features let consumers push an iTunes purchase to all their Apple devices, and download files previously purchased from the store.
Internet radio will heat up this fall when Clear Channel launches its personalized radio service. The as-yet-unnamed service will arrive in conjunction with the company's iHeartRadio Music Festival Sept. 23-24 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The result of Clear Channel's acquisition of Thumbplay earlier this year, the service will add a Pandora-like streaming option to the 750-plus free, online radio stations offered by iHeartRadio. Listeners can access the service through a Web browser; the iHeartRadio app for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7; Sonos home theater systems and JVC receivers.
On the gaming front, "Dance Central 2" is due in October from Harmonix. The original "Dance Central" was released in November 2010 to positive reviews from critics and consumers alike. Again built for the Xbox's Kinect motion sensor, "Dance Central 2" will add a few new features. Two players will be able to play together either simultaneously or in "dance battle" mode. The game will have an improved "break it down" mode that allows dancers to learn moves on a rehearsal stage. And there will be new venues, characters and game modes. Songs confirmed for the game include 2010's "Rude Boy" from Rihanna and "Like a G6" by Far*East Movement, and 1986's "Venus" by Bananarama.