Snag iTunes 10.5 now, upgrade to iOS 5 today

The latest and greatest update to Apple’s mobile platform, iOS 5, will go live today, but you can’t update your iOS devices until you get the latest version of iTunes.

Luckily, iTunes 10.5 is available right now at (or via a software update), and downloading and installing it won’t take long at all. Having the latest version of iTunes will give you access to some of the major new features that are part of iOS 5, including iTunes in the Cloud and your iCloud-based purchase list, which will allow you to re-download items you’ve already purchased from iTunes with a whole lot less hassle than the current system.

Probably the biggest new addition to iTunes 10.5, however, is wireless device syncing over Wi-Fi. You’ll need iOS 5 for that to be possible, however, but that likely means that when you plug in your iPhone or iPad to update to the newest version of iOS, it’ll probably be among the last times you’ll ever have to do so. The latest version of iTunes also includes security updates for Windows users, Ars Technica reports.

According to MacRumors, Apple is also updating iTunes Match for developers for testing with iTunes 10.5. The feature will be available to consumers at the end of October, but originally seemed like it would be part of iTunes 10.5 and iOS 5. Not the case, as Apple announced during its iPhone 4S media event. Though it’s slightly delayed, not getting iTunes Match just yet is probably for the best, as more beta time suggests the service could use the testing.

If you’re not familiar, iTunes Match is Apple’s answer to cloud music streaming services. For a yearly fee, iTunes Match users can have iTunes scan their music libraries for tracks not purchased through Apple’s music service. Then Match, well, matches those tracks with those available on iTunes’ servers, and allows users to download and play them on other devices so long as they’re connected via the Internet.

Couple iTunes Match with iTunes in the Cloud, Apple’s cloud storage service that allows users to re-download content they’ve purchased on iTunes, and you have a pretty substantial music offering that allows users to access all their music from wherever they are.

Speaking of iCloud (kind of), the cloud-based service has been live since last night. Without iOS 5 on-hand, the functionality of iCloud is pretty limited, but it’s easy to see its potential: the consumer website includes syncing with iOS’ email, calendar and contacts lists, so they’re stored online and you can retrieve them from just about anywhere. And iCloud includes Find My iPhone, the service that was formerly part of MobileMe and allows users to locate missing iOS devices, as well as remotely lock or wipe them should they fall into the wrong hands.

Apple is rolling out quite a few new features and products with today’s release of iOS 5 and iTunes 10.5 last night. All of them look extremely promising and may help Apple take even more market share in the smartphone and tablet markets. We’ll have to see how these features actually perform, but knowing Apple, iOS 5 looks pretty satisfying and extremely handy.

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