It has been a banner week for Apple. Not only has the tech giant released new versions of iOS and iTunes, it also launched its much vaunted streaming music service – Apple Music. But the company has also made a controversial move with iOS 8.4 by removing Home Sharing, a popular method for listening to music from various sources from within your home. Here’s why it was most likely a necessary step for Apple in its attempt to dominate the streaming market.
First released as part of iTunes, Home Sharing allows users of Apple’s devices to wirelessly stream their music from an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV, or Macintosh computer. The service has been particularly popular with those who have very large music libraries but don’t want all of those files eating up the storage capacity of their mobile devices. They can instead store their music on their computer, which can be accessed anywhere within the confines of their home. Accessing that music via Wi-Fi is quick, simple, and very satisfying.
But as mentioned, Apple elected to turn off Home Sharing – at least for audio – in the latest release of iOS 8.4. Why exactly they did this remains uncertain at this time, but it most likely has to do with the newly-negotiated streaming rights that are being used with Apple Music. It is possible that in negotiating the right to stream the iTunes catalog, Apple was forced to forfeit the ability to share music via Wi-Fi. In other words, the record companies put an end to Home Sharing in order to allow Apple to have access to all of the music they are now offering new Apple Music customers.
Why does this seem like the most likely explanation? For starters, Home Sharing still works for videos, and it remains an option on Apple TV as well. That device doesn’t have access to Apple Music just yet, so there should be no conflict with any contracts regulating the streaming of music. And since videos can still be shared via Home Sharing, stipulations governing Apple Music seem very likely.
It is possible however that there are actually technical reasons as to why Home Sharing isn’t currently working as well. The lack of functionality is listed as a “known issue” in support documents for iOS 8.4. That would seem to indicate that a future release of the software could correct the problem, and return Home Sharing to the fold.
The removal of Home Sharing isn’t likely to be an issue for those who are now using Apple Music. After all, they have access to a vast library of music at their fingertips, which can be streamed to all of Apple’s devices in some way or another. But those of us who haven’t signed up fro Apple Music just yet will certainly miss having this ability at our fingertips.