Thursday, March 10, 2011

iOS 4.3 Home Sharing. The Good and the Bad.

My Archos devices have been able to stream media from my home network for more than a year now.  Apple finally saw the writing on the wall and added that capability to their latest iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPads. So how did they do?

To start, Apple doesn't just copy a feature they like. I give them credit for trying to add some value and capability when a feature finally shows up on their iDevices. My iPod Touch 4th generation received iOS firmware 4.3 yesterday.  Today I've been running the streaming capability through its paces.

To start, I had to enable it on both my desktop iTunes software as well as in Music Settings on the Touch.  The setting is under Advanced in iTunes.  On the Touch I had to input my Apple ID and Password under Settings>Music>Home Sharing.  None of these options will show up unless WiFi is ON and connected.

What I like?  My Touch is the 8gb version.  I bumped into the limited storage the first time I synced it with iTunes.  My music collect is over 20gb, and finding a 6gb or so subset of that to fit on the Touch came with compromises. Now as long as I'm home I can access, search through, and play any song in my collection.  Once you select your library it will take some time to populate the Touch with album art and other database info about the songs. In the image below no art has yet been added from my local library.

Inconveniences?   The PC has to be on. You need to have WiFi ON on your Touch or iPad or iPhone. Even if your content is on a network shared external drive.   iTunes has to be running. If you try to close iTunes it will warn you that closing it will disconnect anyone who is sharing your music at the time.

What else will it do?  You can share videos so long as your iTunes library knows about them. I had one 720p sample that played fine.  Anything with lower resolution also played fine.

There was no sharing option in the Photo app though.  Rather disappointed.  Videos playing over WiFi play fine, but the few I tried could not be resized or stretched to fit the screen. 

How does it compare to home streaming on the latest Archos devices?   To start, you don't need iTunes.  My 43 found and could play Music, Video, and Photos in any shared folder on my PC.  It would also find and play my shared media on my network drive when my PC was OFF. Win there.  Unfortunately you can't access shared content in the media apps.  Media is easily found using the file browser though.  Any you find will play when tapped on. Videos were a better fit on my 43's screen, and would re-size with a simple press on the screen. Win there.  Apple's strategy makes it easier to sort and search through songs so long as you don't mind having iTunes running when sharing.  Win there.

Conclusion?  iOS 4.3 is a worthy update. If for no other reason than Home Sharing. Well done.


PS:  If you enjoy my blog, please consider clicking on an Ad or two.  Thanks!

No comments:

Post a Comment