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.
Nice article Kraig, but I think you miss one giant point which pushes me to think the remove of Home Sharing was not a compromise done to please labels, but Apple wishes to lead people in their direction.
If you had a 16GB iPhone/iPad, you could still have access to a very large library stored on your Mac computers at home, or even to some personal NAS, used as “iTunes Server”. Now, you have no other choice that paying for an Apple Music subscription (or even buy a higher storage iOS device, that is more expensive).
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The current direction for Apple is for you to not directly own any music anymore. Once you start to use Apple music, even on your Macs or iOS device, most of your new “iCloud Library” will turn out to be full of DRM-protected music, actually owned by Apple… including for all _your_ music you did rip from your CDs, you bought from other website, etc…
And you will only have access to them if you keep paying for Apple subscription. And if you don’t have any backup, or any way to access to a computer that could share your Library on all your device, in the end, you won’t have a lot of choice. You will either obey to Apple and user their services as THEY want… or you will have to stop using their products and services that will lock you down more and more to THEIR ecosystem.
And trust me or not, it’s quite hard to write this for me since I consider myself as an hardcore Apple fan. I just don’t like the current direction they’re going. Because it starts with Music, but Apps, Books, Games, Videos, everything else is coming too. It’s just a matter of time. Step by step, the notion of “ownership” will disappear…
You’re right in the fact that we are headed to a time when no one will actually own their music, but will just pay to stream it, but it isn’t like Apple is driving that shift. After all, Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio have been in the stream business a lot longer. In this case, Apple is just following the market, and make its own way there.
Apple also have a long history of locking customers into their ecosystem. Nothing really new there. This is just another option, although some would argue that it is easy to jump over to a competitor without really missing much in terms of the catalog of music available.
As for Home Sharing and its links to Apple Music, you make a good point that Apple may have elected to do away with the option on their own, but really it would be benefit to them to allow users to share their music, so it probably is more of a choice from the record labels.