Apple planning to add remote streaming capability to iTunes?

Wed, Feb 11, 2009

News, Rumors

As users continue to download media content from iTunes in increasingly large numbers, the ability to sync all of that content onto your iPhone and iPod Touch is becoming more problematic.  The largest capacity iPhone currently checks in at 16 GB, but for most people, that’s not even large enough to accommodate a relatively decent sized music library with a few podcast subscriptions.  Throw in some video content, photos, and a slew of applications, and all of a sudden you find yourself having to decide what content from your iTunes library is worthy of being transferred over to your device.

Adding more storage space always helps, and though a 32 GB iPod Touch is currently available, and a rumored 32GB iPhone is already in the works,  Apple might have another solution up its sleeve – one that doesn’t rely on simply increasing storage capacity.

Imagine being able to access and stream all of your iTunes content from anywhere in the world, straight from the mythical ‘cloud’.  Well, the ability to do just that may soon become a possibility.  AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is working on a new feature for iTunes that would allow users to stream their downloaded content remotely provided that they have a fast enough Internet connection.

The rumored service, known as “iTunes Replay”, would work as follows:  Rather than transferring actual video files from a users computer to a device, iTunes would instead transfer a directory file containing metadata about the content a particular user has in their iTunes library.  With that information, users could then relay that data back up to the ‘cloud’, and subsequently stream the corresponding files back down to their device from Apple’s own servers.  In essence, this capability would enable the iPhone to achieve one of the holy grails of technology – endless storage.  Or at least the illusion of it.

AppleInsider notes that there’s no word on whether or not Apple would charge for the rumored service, but there’s no question that the ability to remotely access a 50 GB iTunes library from anywhere in the world is worth paying a fair price for.  It should be noted, though, that enabling this service for all iPod Touch and iPhone users for free would inevitably drive customers towards the the cheaper and lower storage models, while also eliminating the need for some users to upgrade to a higher capacity device.  Apple therefore would most likely only enable this feature on its most expensive iPod Touch and iPhone models.

Lastly, should Apple actually implement such a service, not only would it be beneficial for iPhone and iPod Touch users, but Apple TV users would also stand to benefit. And on a larger scale, such a feature would also enable Apple to better position the iPhone as the premium smartphone out on the market, leaving rival smartphone manufacturers scrambling to compete against an iPhone with limitless storage.


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. koolau Says:

    Streaming would be most excellent. If they can improve the 3G and wifi speeds it will boost popularity among the media enthusiasts.

    However, I don’t believe the streaming will deter the larger capacity models. The user will still need space for more intensive apps and the speed of playback only local storage provides.

    Finally, many users still complain about weak signal strength or non-existent reception, meaning that streaming can only be a complementary service to add desire and value to the product. It will not be a replacement for local storage.

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