We’ve heard rumours for months about the posibility of Apple taking iTunes into the cloud. They bought and subsequently shut down LaLa, a cloud based music streaming service, but as yet we haven’t seen any hard evidence Apple is going to launch a LaLa iTunes replacement.
Everyone’s favourite fruit flavoured company did, however, sneak in a bit of iDisk based cloud storage music streaming, by updating its iPhone and iPad iDisk app to enable music streaming from the MobileMe iDisk service. For those of you who have shunned Apple’s ill-fated sync and cloud solution, MobileMe comes with 20GB of online storage called iDisk. The iDisk can be mounted as a network drive in OSX and or Windows and there’s no restriction on what you can or can’t store on your iDisk; however files that the iDisk app on iOS doesn’t recognise can’t be accessed on your iDevice.
Apple updated its iOS iDisk app on the 6th of July with the following change list:
What’s New In Version 1.2
- Designed for both iPhone and iPad
- Multitasking support for iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS (iOS 4 required).
* Quickly switch to another app and back to iDisk
* Play audio from your iDisk while using another app
- When app is opened, the last file or directory viewed is displayed
- Option to open iDisk documents in compatible apps such as iBooks
- When sharing a file, an email can be sent from any configured email account
- The URL for a shared file can be copied and pasted
- Various stability improvements
Fine, small improvements across the board, with a bit of audio playing to boot. However, it wasn’t until Michael Robertson, CEO of MP3tunes, revealed in a blog post that the iDisk app could play songs from your iDisk in the background on iOS4 that what Apple had actually done with the update was shown. By streaming tunes from the iDisk in this way, Apple has circumnavigated the recording industry, essentially allowing you to stream any songs you might have in your library. It’s nothing novel, you can do the same using your computer as a media server, even across the web. But as it’s actually a company doing so, without any compensation to the recording industry, you might find Apple takes a bit of heat for this.
Is Apple testing the waters in preparation for iTunes.com? It wouldn’t take much for Apple to integrate music streaming into the iPod app in the same way it has with the iDisk app. Perhaps Apple will roll iTunes and MobileMe in together, iTunes Plus for instance or MobileMe Tunes. Whatever happens in the near future, if you happen to have a MobileMe account now, you can dump all or a large proportion of your music library onto your iDisk and stream said library to your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad over 3G or Wifi, all for the grand old price of gratis.