Colour me impressed — using iTunes to stream music to multiple devices simultaneously

Back in 2006 as part of a post on a new iPod Nano, I ven­ted on how broken iTunes was for my work­flow. Well, time has passed and iTunes has improved, but it’s still not as intu­it­ive or simple for me and my cent­ral­ized music setup:

  • File serv­er stor­ing my music
  • Remote play­back sys­tems in vari­ous rooms (Mac mini, Apple TVs, Air­port Express, etc)
  • Remote con­trol of said music stream

My big beef then was organ­iz­a­tion. iTunes was a pain and wanted to sync/manage my music on my behalf in a way that didn’t make sense to me. Well, that’s since been fixed.

My next beef was with the lack of sound syn­chron­iz­a­tion across mul­tiple devices as you play back. For example, if I wanted to play a song back on my Mac Mini, and have it stream *as well* to my kit­chen Apple TV, and my desktop com­puter sim­ul­tan­eously.

Pre­vi­ously, to achieve this I had to run a 3rd party applic­a­tion set on all my devices — a cool little app called Air­foil. Basic­ally you had the Air­foil ‘broad­cast’ app run­ning on whatever com­puter was actu­ally doing the play­ing. Air­foil grabbed the audio stream and sent it out to all the devices that it recog­nized either via the Air­foil Speak­ers app, or an Air­play device, or an iPhone / iPad. A minor pain, but it worked.

Back to iTunes

So, this morn­ing I dis­covered some­thing new in iTunes, you can now stream music to mul­tiple devices sim­ul­tan­eously. Yes, this may have appeared in a pre­vi­ous iTunes update but I hadn’t noticed it — so it’s new to me 😉

One of the neat things is that the Apple Remote app — a free iOS app to con­trol Apple TV or iTunes over a net­work — also passes through the mul­tiple device play­back fea­ture. This means you can sit on your couch and con­trol the sound on any of your play­back devices through out your home.

Second neat thing

iTunes Air­play con­nects to the Air­foil Speak­ers app run­ning on my Win­dows PC, let­ting me add my home office desktop into the sound mix.

Yes, it’s pretty cool to have music stream­ing through the entire house, in sync, as you walk from room to room.

 

 

A spacy new way to browse music on your iPad

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Listen­ing to music on your iPad is usu­ally a visu­ally-sparse affair. Load up your play­er, nav­ig­ate to your lib­rary, and select the muisc. Play, and do oth­er things. Not any more…

Outta this world!
Plan­et­ary is the new (and free!) app from Bloom Stu­di­os that gives new mean­ing to nav­ig­at­ing through your music col­lec­tion. To quote the developers:

Fly through a 3D uni­verse dynam­ic­ally cre­ated by inform­a­tion about the record­ing artists you love. Vis­it plan­ets that rep­res­ent your favor­ite albums and con­trol the play­back of your music on iPad by brows­ing and select­ing astro­nom­ic­al objects.

Plan­et­ary is just the sort of sci­ence fic­tion exper­i­ence you expect when using an object from the future like iPad. You’ll want to show your friends this beau­ti­ful app. We’ve made it even easi­er to share Plan­et­ary at home; it looks incred­ible when you hook your iPad 2 up to a big HDTV or pro­ject­or using the HDMI access­ory.

Now Plan­et­ary won’t (yet) replace the iPad’s nat­ive play­er as it doesn’t sup­port playl­ists, or search. But when you think about it, it really doesn’t need to — as the app is more a visu­al eye-candy lay­er being applied to the act of brows­ing through your music col­lec­tion.

Very pretty; you’ll use it to show off your iPad, and it’s free — why wouldn’t you get it :smileyhappy:

A great over­view in the video below.

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Unleash your inner Spielberg

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I’m sure all of us have, at one point or anoth­er, dreamed of releas­ing that movie dir­ect­or deep inside, and mak­ing our own movie, com­plete with music and spe­cial effects.

Well, if your dream is to make one that hearkens back to the golden days of silent cinema, then I’ve got an inex­pens­ive app for you.

Silent Film Dir­ect­or, released today, can help you make movies in a style remin­ensent of the clas­sic Hol­ly­wood sil­ver screen.

It’s a very slick app that lets you shoot, edit and share movies on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (in Uni­ver­sal mode). Con­tin­ue read­ing “Unleash your inner Spiel­berg”

A great couple of weeks to be an iOS gamer

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Three excit­ing games were released for iOS devices in the last week and a bit. One was from a well-estab­lished com­puter and con­sole devel­op­ment jug­ger­naut. One was from a (now) block­buster com­pany that made their name on the iPhone and iPod Touch. And the final one from a small but respec­ted Cana­dian design house, is cur­rently tak­ing the iTunes App store by storm — becom­ing Game of the Week on launch day. And if you’re plan­ning to pick up an iPad 2 tomor­row, you might want to make these your first down­loads :smileyhappy:
Con­tin­ue read­ing “A great couple of weeks to be an iOS gamer”

How your mobile phone or tablet could save your life

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Believe it or not, there are many ways your mobile smart phone could be used when you find your­self in the middle of an emer­gency situ­ation,  aside from the obvi­ous — mak­ing a phone call for emer­gency assist­ance, I mean.

The recent events in Japan and New Zea­l­and have shown that when dis­aster strikes, get­ting the most accur­ate inform­a­tion is likely the best way to make choices that could save your life.

Browser
Provided the event hasn’t taken out the loc­al mobile net­work, your mobile phone’s browser will help, link­ing you with many loc­al, nation­al, and inter­na­tion­al news ser­vices, as well as many dif­fer­ent chan­nels of com­mu­nic­a­tion (email, voice chat, twit­ter, etc).

Hard­ware
f1.jpgBut there are oth­er ways your smart phone can help. For example, many smart phone’s dis­play screens are bright enough to be used as a make­shift flash­light when the power goes out. Col­or Flash­light is a lead­ing Android app and Flash­light 4 is one of the most pop­u­lar ones in Japan right now.

As well, most phones these days know where they are in the world, either by tri­an­gu­lat­ing between com­mu­nic­a­tions towers, wifi sources, or built-in GPS sys­tems. Tie this in with any of the pop­u­lar map­ping applic­a­tions and you have a good visu­al under­stand­ing of where you are. Help­ful when you have to find an altern­ate route or trans­port­a­tion sys­tem in an unfa­mil­i­ar city.

An app for that? You bet!
As you can ima­gine, there are many things that you could need in an emer­gency. And, of course, there are some apps that can help.

Dur­ing the Tsunami warn­ings fol­low­ing the Japan earth­quake, inform­a­tion like that provided by this Hawaii­an-developed Dis­aster Alert app helped keep islanders informed about the impend­ing waves.

And after an event, find­ing people and shel­ter is a pri­or­ity.

Google launched their Google Per­son Find­er dur­ing the Christ­ch­urch earth­quake, and updated it for the Japan event.

And the Amer­ic­an Red Cross has released their free Shel­ter View app.

So as you can see, with just a few book­marks, per­haps an hour of app-store brows­ing, and a few dol­lars invest­ment, you can have a pretty good emer­gency pre­pared­ness kit all tucked neatly into your mobile data phone.

I think it’s time I star­ted on mine, what have I missed that I should add?
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Apple vs the App Developers

boot.jpgPre­vi­ously I’d writ­ten about the impend­ing launch of Gar­age Band for iPad, and men­tioned how Apple’s release of this app will chal­lenge smal­ler inde­pend­ent app developers in the music cre­ation space.

Today’ I’m at it again. With yesterday’s release of iOS 4.3, it seems that Apple has again taken a bite out of a developer’s rev­en­ue stream.

I’m talk­ing spe­cific­ally about enhance­ments to iTunes Home Shar­ing that enable video and audio stream­ing from any prop­erly con­figured iTunes-run­ning com­puter on your net­work.

Yep, this is a good thing, and it’s very cool tech. It’s great that Apple is mak­ing it avail­able for free. And it’s unfor­tu­nate that it’s also put­ting pres­sure on the developers of the Air Video and StreamToMe apps, both very good stream­ing applic­a­tions.

Innov­ate or else. This is com­pet­i­tion?
So now the ball is back in the developers court. They have to prove that their apps worth real money, and are bet­ter or dif­fer­ent than iTunes Home Shar­ing, which is free and just an update away.

And the developers aren’t work­ing from a pos­i­tion of strength that Apple is with all the resources at it’s dis­pos­al.

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Air Video and StreamToMe and oth­ers offer sig­ni­fic­ant dif­fer­en­ti­at­ors from Apple’s Home Shar­ing, in that they can be set up to stream video from your home serv­er to your loc­a­tion any­where on the Inter­net, provided you’ve prop­erly con­figured your net­work and the apps. I’ve not seen an easy way to set iTunes up to extend Home Shar­ing to an Inter­net con­nec­ted device. It may exist, but I’ve not seen it yet.

But wait, there’s more!
Home media stream­ing isn’t the only area Apple’s jumped into recently. As men­tioned at the start of this post, Gar­age Band for iPad launched today. And it looks like an awe­some app!

korg.jpgWhich has some music app makers re-eval­u­at­ing their product and pri­cing struc­tures when com­pared against Gar­age Band iPad.

For example, today KORG dropped the price of its hugely awe-inspir­ingly-com­plex synth, the iMS-20. Giv­en the com­plex­ity and power of the app, KORG had it ini­tially pegged at $32.99. Today the price dropped to half at $15.99.

No update. No improve­ments. Just a change in the land­scape tomor­row and an app is worth $15.00 less.

Sure, com­par­ing a $4.99 iPad Gar­age Band against a full fea­tured $32.99 $15.99 synth is Apples to Oranges. But is it? Many buy­ers of iPad Gar­age Band have Macs, which already have the full com­puter ver­sion of Gar­age Band installed as part of the stand­ard Mac bundle. A built-in audi­ence and income stream for the iPad app.

Win­ning!
In the end, the con­sumer is win­ning, it seems. With Gar­age Band, they get a new, reas­on­ably priced and power­ful app for their iPads. And they’ll also bene­fit by some price cuts on oth­er apps whose developers will feel the need to com­pete with Gar­age Band’s price, bring­ing them into line with con­sumer new expect­a­tions. Win­ning — for the con­sumer.

For the app developers? That remains to be seen.

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Emerging Tech: This magazine app knows what you like

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You’ve got an iPad and all the pop­u­lar magazine, con­tent, read­ing apps like Reed­er, Flip­board, Pulse, and FLUD. Well now there’s a new one using tech­no­logy from the Uni­ver­sity of Brit­ish Columbia’s Labor­at­ory for Com­pu­ta­tion­al Intel­li­gence.

It’s called Zite, and is it ever cool. But first, the video.

Why I like it
It’s a learn­ing app. Log in to your Google Read­er and Twit­ter account, let Zite per­form a bit of ana­lys­is, and you’ve got con­tent that Zite thinks you’re inter­ested in. And it’s free 🙂