Wednesday, September 09, 2009

iTunes 9 home sharing is mediocre

There's a longstanding issue with iTunes, one that I've been writing about since at least 2005.

Suppose you have have 3 family members with iPhones. Do they all sync to one user account? Our do they each sync to their own account?

If the former everyone shares music and apps (up to five devices), but they also share playlists, address books, iTunes accounts, and calendars (unless they sync via Exchange Server to Google). If the latter then everyone has their own stuff, but they also need to have their own movie, music library and app library.

This is a longstanding pain in the butt.

So when I read that iTunes - 9 did something about music sharing decided to install it on a non-media machine.

Turns out, it does what Apple says:
... With Home Sharing, you can browse the iTunes libraries of up to five authorized computers in your house, import what you like...
Emphasis on IMPORT. If you add a tune to a playlist you COPY the file, even when iTunes is running in multiple user sessions on the same machine.

So everything is duplicated.

It's a lot like old-style iTunes sharing, except now you can copy.

Not interesting. The old problem remains.

See also:
Update 9/10/09: A friend tells me he syncs his wife's iPod twice. Once to the account that holds iTunes, a second time to her personal account. The iTunes settings on each machine control what gets synched. This is an intermediate solution with both advantages and obvious disadvantages (double sync, no personal playlist, no personal ratings, etc, etc). Also if you are sharing your iTunes Library the update may reset permissions.

Update 9/24/09: I upgraded my main library to 9.01 and paid more attention to the language of Home Sharing such as "is for personal use". Note that Home Sharing is for all persons who share the same iTunes account -- which is, in theory, only one person. Apple is walking a fine DRM line here, as they have for many years. They don't target multiple accounts on a single Mac because that represents multiple users, and Home Sharing is really for one user on multiple machines.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Forget sharing tracks between different machines; thats been possible forever (although not this easy).

It seems Apple went out of their way to make it difficult to realistically and in a practical way share tunes between accounts on the same machine.