As the relationship between the iPod, iPhone, and iTunes gets ever more complicated with apps, photo and video sharing, and iTunes 9 management options, one thing still remains clear: syncing with a computer, be it desktop or laptop, is still a pain in the butt. But sharing content between computers authorized under a shared iTunes account has just gotten a little easier.
Buried in Apple's press conference amid iPod and iTunes news was an announcement of Home Sharing, a service that will make transferring music and movies between the five computers that your content a simpler matter than it's ever been. Although Apple didn't demonstrate this feature extensively during the keynote, we hope it works as well as it sounds like it does. While enabling easier use of purchased content is a welcome idea, here's a better one: why not finally allow a user to create a home media server that all their computers and wireless devices can access seamlessly over Wi-Fi from anywhere in the world?
Such technology already exists via third-party software and hardware, but none of them work as easily as Apple's baked-in software. Services such as Spotify begin to tackle the problem via the cloud, but replicating existing technology has never stopped Apple before (see Time Capsule, for instance). But a media server is still a great idea for them to get behind...if only they would. We've been waiting since 2008, but news has gone dim on the server front.
If authorization is the concern, Apple can still restrict its server software to five machines. But freeing the iDevice from its slave computer is the true end goal, and the only way to get there is with a server.
Apple's Time Capsule and Apple TV have begun to explore elements of such a device, but neither allow seamless consolidation and storage access for media in the way that's truly needed. The Apple TV is a closed box and has limited storage space compared to the Time Capsule, but the Time Capsule doesn't have any media-sharing server software, making streaming content off it quite difficult, and certainly not seamless. Of course, there is the Mac Mini, which some say is Apple's missing media server. The problem is that the Mini isn't as single-purpose as a server could be...and its included storage capacity isn't server-size.
An Apple Media Box is the missing link, and would conceivably sell like hotcakes. So, where is it? And why did we spend all day watching demos of Nanos with cameras and FM radios instead?