November 4, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Xbox 360 and iPod interoperability? Sort of

If you play "Project Gotham Racing 3" on an Xbox 360 after the console hits stores later this month, Microsoft invites you to use tunes straight off your iPod as an alternative to the game's sound track.

Officially, the company says the new console can stream music from just about any MP3 player. But during a preview of the next-generation console in San Francisco last month, Microsoft execs talked up the interoperability between iPods and the Xbox 360.

"When you plug your iPod in," Xbox digital-entertainment executive producer Jeff Henshaw told CNET News.com, "the Xbox 360 automatically detects that it's there. You can browse by artist or album or genre or by custom playlist."

News.context

What's new:
Microsoft has been demonstrating the Xbox 360's interoperability with the iPod. Apple, however, isn't on board.

Bottom line:
While the Xbox 360's streaming capabilities push it a step closer to being a multi-entertainment box, it's unclear how long consumers will be able to import tunes via their iPods. One analyst went so far as to predict that Apple will fight back once the new console launches.

More stories on next-generation consoles

However, because of the iPod's digital-rights-management software, the Xbox 360 cannot stream songs purchased from Apple's iTunes Music Store, Henshaw said.

There's a reason for that: Microsoft built its iPod connection without the support of the folks at Apple.

"We do not have an official relationship with Apple for the iPod connectivity," said Scott Henson, product unit manager in Microsoft's advanced technology group. He maintains that "Xbox 360 leverages standard protocols such as USB mass storage to enable iPod support."

Henshaw said Microsoft tried to "engage" Apple in a partnership that would have officially made the iPod interoperable with Xbox, but Apple rejected the overture.

"So we went in and built all of the support we could," Henshaw said. Microsoft plans to release the new Xbox in North America on Nov. 22.

Apple has been pitching a very different approach for those who want to connect to its popular music player. Through its so-called "Made for iPod" program, the Cupertino, Calif., company is attempting to collect royalties from the maker of any accessory device that interfaces with an iPod through its "dock connector."

Apple would not comment for this story.

iPod owners will be able to connect their digital music devices through one of the Xbox 360's three high-speed USB ports. They'll be able to access an Xbox menu that will let them scroll through songs, artists, genres and the like and select songs to play in games' backgrounds. Users will also be able to stream photos off their iPods for playback of slide shows on the Xbox.

"We expect Apple will have some retaliation ready within days or hours of the Xbox 360 shipping."
--Richard Doherty, president, Envisioneering

Henshaw said the Xbox 360 would be able to stream any standard MP3 file or AAC file from an iPod, but not protected songs purchased through the iTunes Music Store. Those songs, he said, will appear grayed out in menus on the Xbox.

He also said that Microsoft was working around Apple's assertion of control over the iPod's dock connector by making the "Xbox 360 use a very standard USB port for connectivity. We just rely on the USB cable that Apple ships with iPods."

Henshaw wouldn't comment when asked if Microsoft had had to perform any reverse engineering in order to get songs to stream onto the Xbox 360 from an iPod.

But Neil Benson, the creator of iPodcopy, a software package that enables users to move music off their iPods, said making this connection is more complicated than Microsoft is letting on.

"The trick is finding the right files," Benson said. An iPod "scatters the music files across random directories and renames them, so they're really hard to find."

CONTINUED: Focus on multi-entertainment…
Page 1 | 2

45 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
True retaliation
"We expect Apple will have some retaliation ready within days or hours of the Xbox 360 shipping,"

True retaliation would be Apple's port of iTunes to Xbox360.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True retaliation
IOW, M$ will lose money making Xbox360 and will try hard to return investments on games.

In mean time, Apple would cash on both iPods & songs sold to Xbox360 owners.

I do not see why it is bad to Apple.
It might be bad to Apple only in M$' screwed monopolistic logic.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Link Flag
I don't see why Apple would stop this
Why would Apple stop this? It is not like they provide hardware such as this. The only thing that comes close is Airport express.

If Apple were to disable this it would encourage people that have Xbox 360s to purchase a different player if they were interested in this.

Apple is putting itself on an Island where as the competitors are working together to innovate. If anyone can ever nail down Apple's interfaces they may be in trouble. Until then, I just hope they don't block this. I would love to use my new 60gb player to play custom soundtracks.
Posted by uwmbn (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can you say "mod chip"
It's the same reason that MS goes after those who put mod chips
in their XBox consoles - it is illigal to reverse engineer patented
technology. The only reason that I see MS doing this is to drain
Apple of revenues through a lawsuit. Apple can use MS' own
actions against mod chip makers in court to prove their case. It
is a losing proposition for MS, but they a little bit more money to
throw at this then what Apple is willing to spend.

By the way, people do not buy their mobile music players based
on the video game they have. If that were the case, then the
Playstation would set the trend and not the far third place XBox.
Posted by sunergeos (111 comments )
Link Flag
Apple Cant Stop this
Apple really cant retaliate. If they did, it would be a direct blow to buyers of both systems. They also cant charge royalties because mass storage device interconnects are based on open standards. Which means not only can you use an iPod, but you can also hook up any other player on the market with a USB connection. I think its pretty cool, Although I dont have an iPod, It would be sad if Apple actually did try something, It would show their true colors (Not as open as most think)
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
iTunes on the Xbox
iTunes on the Xbox only makes sense if
users can buy Apple's music on the Xbox network but i don't
think MS is willing to give in on that one.
Posted by Peter Bonte (316 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry, this was a reply on Wayne's post (nm)
Sorry, this was a reply on Wayne's post :(
Posted by Peter Bonte (316 comments )
Link Flag
Comming from MS....
This sounds ridiculous considering the length's Microsoft goes
to make their software incompatible with other systems. The
proprietary formats and code they deploy in the software. You
only have to look at IE, a browser that doesn't conform to the w3
standards.

Any how I hope Apple does allow this as it would be a shame for
all iPod owners if it's incompatible.
Posted by geesh (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Agreed...
My gosh... Can they say somethine about Apple not playing nice... and then the same day talk about how their office file formats can't possibly open up to OpenOffice?

In fact, I bet the only reason they opened up to PDF (after all these years) is they finally created their own competing technology...

The MS quote of "knife the baby" still rings in my head. I hope Apple doesn't forget...
Posted by UntoldDreams (91 comments )
Link Flag
More proof that Apple is the true evil empire
More proof that Apple is the true evil empire. Apple's the one trying to extort money from manufacturers that will ultimately be paid by the consumer.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Com'on Bill.....
... Would you please try to write an intelligent response?????
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Apple should charge everyone...
Think about it, if Apple are planning to charge people for using
the dock connetor interface in the way the xbox does think
about who else they could charge; PC manufacturers for putting
a dock connector compatible USB port on their computers,
Microsoft for creating software in Windows XP that allows people
to access iPod's files via the dock connector, Hi-Fi
manufacturers for creating Hi-Fis with a line in port which can
connect to the iPod via a dock and the DOCK CONNECTOR etc... I
like Apple and their products but trying to keep their products
so isolated is crazy, come on Apple, work with Microsoft on the
xbox.
Posted by peterharding4468 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You miss the point.
Apple isn't trying to charge anyone for having a USB port or a "line in". They are charging for the use of their proprietary connector on the base of the unit.

You can get a Bose sound system dock station to put your iPod in. This is the sort of thing Apple is wanting to charge for. It is the accessory market of items that are designed specifically to work with iPod and not stuff that is universal.

My car stereo has a line in and I can connect ANY audio output device to it that supports standard head phones.

Apple also has a requirement to ensure products do not violate their DRM. They pay for those songs and movies to the rights owner and need to ensure their DRM system is not compromised by something like X-Box 360 support.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Ipods are crap and no amount of "style" can make them quality products
Okay I say down with apple....The Ipod is a piece of crap. I'm not being a hater. There are about 100 players on the market that are more reliable, more compatible and just plain BETTER than the IPOD in many ways. I have an ipod 40 gig and looks really nice. It doesn't function anymore so I use it to keep my magazines from flying away when I open my windows. Wow a $400 paper weight. Thanks Apple for making style more important than making a quality product that you don't have to replace every 12 months.
Posted by stor0597 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It looks like....
Booo - iPod 1
Yeah - iPod 12,000,000 or so

About right.......
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Liar Liar Pants on Fire
OK, that was a bit childish.

But your comment was far less. With 500 million users, I wonder just how many share your views? Even if you can gather 10,000 unhappy users out of 500 million, those numbers are what we use to create something called a FACT.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
of course my numbers aren't fact
But you get the point
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
You're not a hater but...
You say you're not a hater but you're annoyed you broke your iPod? (I say you broke it because being an inanimate object it is uncapable of, say, throwing itself out of windows or out of pockets)
Posted by steviesteveo (29 comments )
Link Flag
Style over quality
Perhaps people need to start treating iPods like hard drives instead
of flash players... It has a few mm thick hard disk, you bend it, your
going to start rubbing heads on disks, simple as that.

The fact its made of co-moulded plastic and steel makes it a hell of
a lot better build quality than the others. As for compatability, I
found my Zen only ran on Windows, not much on that front for the
2nd most popular is it?
Posted by Devil_wills (10 comments )
Link Flag
I completely agree- ipods are crap.
I had been a strong advocate of the ipod- and purchased the 40gb ipod, the nano, and the shuffle. I have now owned three 40GB ipods because the hard drives failed after one year. For the last I purchased the extended warrenty. The Warrenty expired in December the IPOD in January. The Bethesda MD "tech support" clerk gleefully reported that I could get a 10% discount on my next IPOD. Thank you so much apple for the incentive to spend another 400 dollars on a paper weight. Booooo.
Posted by dstyslinger (1 comment )
Link Flag
It's time for the Dr. Dos technique
Apple should do what Microsoft did to the Dr. Dos software years
ago. Rather than making Windows totally incompatible with Dr.
Dos, they inserted a few anomolies so that Dr. Dos wouldn't work
correctly. It would work for some things, but definately not for all
things. The iPods should be able to detect the XBox connecting to
it and mess with it a bit. The only down side on this approach is
that when the XBox appears to not work with the iPod everyone will
simply accept is as typical behavior for an MS product.
Posted by sunergeos (111 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Changes to files...
Yeah, Apple could make a few changes to some of the non ITMS purchased songs that make XBox 360 try to play them, then cause sudden and unexpected crashes or at least cause unexpected audio output. "What was that horrible screaching sound?" :)

Wouldn't be too hard to do with a few tweaks to the media here and there.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Netscape too
That's a very good point, although the fud'ers might end up pointing out that since the Xbox 360 (our god, a games console, come let us worship) doesn't like the iPod (a cheap, cr*ppy [music player] only art people like - this is how i've heard mac computers described) no one should like the iPod at all

personally, i know someone who hates any computer not running windows and any game console not made by nintendo and will tell you that macs can't save ms office files (they can - MS even make a version of office for mac), can't play games (they can), aren't powerful (they are), aren't user friendly (he hasn't used them and doesn't know the tricks he does with windows), crash (definetly no more and in my experience less than windows), are only used by graphic designers (and artists, and musicians, and developers and scientists, and film makers and photographers and architects and home users and commerical users...) and will literally shout denials at you if you correct him with the facts as they are really reported. much as apple tries to sell their products everywhere there is some strange apple bashing in the world still, even though the iPod is a proven success
Posted by steviesteveo (29 comments )
Link Flag
Liar Liar Pants on Fire :-)
OK, that was a bit childish.

But your comment was far less. With 500 million users, I wonder just how many share your views? Even if you can gather 10,000 unhappy users out of 500 million, those numbers are what we use to create something called a FACT.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How is this different than connecting to a PC?
I don't see how Apple would get upset at someone using their product to play music. Or should they be able to charge an additional licensing fee, for something you already purchased.

This is the same as hooking up the iPod to your own PC and listening to music. The PC in this case just happens to be a game console.
Posted by ericnn24 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
X-Box 360 is NOT a PC.
Apple only provides software for Windows or Mac PCs, not for any other system.

The X-Box will not use the "Itunes" software, there for it's NOT authorized by Apple.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Grammar 101
there: in or at that place; "they have lived there for years"; "it's not there"; "that man there"

they're: a contraction of "they are;" "They're sitting over there in their seats."

their: a possessive pronoun; "Everyone returned to their seats."

If you don't know the differences between these words, then you don't know how pissed off people get when you use them incorrectly. It would benefit you greatly to learn this one simple thing.
Posted by rich966 (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Front Row is why Apple will retaliate.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.apple.com/imac" target="_newWindow">http://www.apple.com/imac</a>

Why would Apple allow XBOX to remain capable of playing music when they have their own hardware/software that is in competition with it. Sure the gaming aspect is seperate, but in terms of multimedia playback, Front Row is Apple's; XBOX is Microsoft's.

Regards
Posted by danny_f (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apples and Oranges
How can you compare an Imac and an Xbox 360? First off, front row is a rip off of MCE from microsoft, and they didn't bother to copy the most important thing, the Tivo functionality. I do not know why they did not include this, because then it might be worth buying an Imac to hook up to my tv. Second, the Xbox is a media center hubb, but its main function is for playing games, something the Imac definetly is not. If it was somone other than microsoft allowing you to play your music through your stereo system for no additional cost, this would not be a big deal. Why wouldn't peope want to have custom soundtracks streaming off there ipod, or have the ability to play the songs on there ipod through there speakers just by hooking it up to the 360.
Posted by Rolndubbs (194 comments )
Link Flag
FrontRow Stinks
Its Apple's pathetic attempt to copy MCE. They arent even close. Multimedia Playback isnt really th XBOX 360's target. Games are the target..If you want multimedia for movies, photos, videos and so on get a media center.
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
It's not magic
The Xb360 implementation could very simply just look at the id3 tags - which are left intact after all of the ipod's file hiding and renaming - and build a catalog. i would imagine that the first time it is hooked up, it will catalog the player for all files that are wma - which we know MS understands - and mp3... analyze the id3 tags and be done. (just like itunes and mplayer do with your hard drive.) The xb360 will probably have a db similar to media player or itunes to keep track of the files and such.

No magic... just not what apple wants to have happen.

Apple would need to do two things to avoid this:

permanently move the id3 information (artist, title, album, etc) to a database and out of the file... and/or:

disable the ability to use the ipod as an external harddrive. i don't see either of those happening....
anything else, MS could easily work around.
Posted by slacey (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Streaming Music is NOT that big of a deal
I think the whole thing is funny. I make my own soundtrack for
every video game I play. Its legacy technology but it works great.
The secret? MUTE the TV. TURN ON the stereo. Done deal. :)
Posted by foxxxy79 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is a big deal for gamers
I think the feature is more complicated than that. You can choose a different song depending where you are in the game.
Posted by danutm (1 comment )
Link Flag
.
ha. Legacy technology. Best comment yet.
Posted by dahkness (26 comments )
Link Flag
good job apple
i can play music acquired from shadier methods but not from the itms. thats anti piracy for u

great job apple!!
Posted by hahne58 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
LARGE PART OF ARTICLE IS BASED ON WRONG INFORMATION, Explanation included!!
It made me rather angry when near the bottom of the first page I encountered some information obtained from ipodCopy's author. It is 100% WRONG. The database does not have to be reengineered at all in fact the database isnt even needed. Any saavy user can get into the iPod's music folder under the iPod_Control Folder. And yes the file names are all uglied up with 4 character names such as TXVS.mp3, However the tag information is still contained in the file. If you right click on any of them and view the tag attributes you can find the song title, album, year, etc. The filename really has nothing to do with identifying tracks, since the data is held in the tags anyway.
If you want a good example of not needing the iPod db to find\play music do the following steps:
1. Mount the iPod to a computer in Disk Mode (So it shows up as a portable hardrive)
2. Double click on it in my computer. In the Menu Bar goto Tools&gt;Folder Options&gt;View&gt;Show Hidden Files and Folders.
3. Open Windows Media Player
4. Goto any of the buttons to add a folder and all subfolders of music to Windows media player (Import Folder).
Navigate into your ipod, goto Ipod_Control Then You can add the Music folder.
5. Voila the music will appear neatly organized as any library on any computer into windows media player. Titles and everything. If you go into the music directoory their will be around 49 Folders most contain many .mp3 files (if the ipod is loaded) They do have weird names, but if you change explorer to have a detailed view you can even see artist title and album info right their in explorer. The library is only for use by the iPod and iTunes for organization and playlists. It has nothing to do with linking music files to file names and such. Blasphomy. All the ipod is is a portable hardrive with mp3 files (and AAc\mp4)(held in the ipod\ipod_control\Music) So techinically if the xbox 360 extracts mp3 files from USB Mass storage devices\Portable hardrives the ipod is automatically compatible. All the information is in the files themselves.
Posted by Joshua_EN (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.