Well, it took Apple long enough, but now you can finally stream the contents of your iTunes library on your Mac or PC to your iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, 4th generation iPod touch, or either versions of your iPad without using a third party application. SimplifyMedia was the first to bring iTunes music sharing to users, but the recent iOS 4.3 update includes Home Sharing, which enables you to stream your iTunes library via your home WiFi network.
Unfortunately though, you still can’t share your library outside of your network using the Home Sharing feature. Zumocast is the application you will need to do that.
Setting Up Home Sharing
In order to use Home Sharing, you will need to download and install the latest version of iTunes 10.2 on your Mac or PC, and the latest version of iOS 4.3 on your iOS device (by the way, this latest iOS update can’t be installed on the iPhone 3G).
Next, in iTunes, open Preferences > Sharing and enable “Home Sharing over Local Network“. If you have a huge iTunes library you might want to limit the content that is shared so it can be accessed quicker on your remote device. You can also require a password to secure your connection. If you have iTunes running on another Mac or Windows PC you can also share your library to those machines.
On your iOS 4.3 device, open the Settings app and select iPod in the Settings column. From there you will need to provide your Apple ID and password to activate Home Sharing on the device.
Now, with your iTunes running on your networked computer, launch the iPod app on your device and select Library. At the top of the left column, select your iTunes library. If you’re streaming to your iPad or iPod touch, I believe, you will need to open the Videos app to view the movies, TV shows, music videos and video podcasts streaming from your computer.
In your streaming iTunes library, you can switch and navigate between Songs, Artists, Albums, Genres and Composer. See the menu bar at the bottom of the streaming library.
Fortunately, you can also rate the streaming music you’re playing your iOS device and it will be updated in the library of your base computer.
If you’re concerned about not being able to access your networked iTunes library when your computer is asleep, open System Preferences > Energy Saver and check the Wake for Ethernet network access box, so your iTunes library will be available even when your computer is asleep.
Home Sharing is a long overdue feature for iTunes and iOS devices. However, it is still lacking in the bells and whistles that would make it more useful.
For instance, while Home Sharing streams all your iTunes playlists, podcasts, audiobooks, iTunes U programs, it does not allow you to wirelessly download individual tracks to your iOS device. So say you want to listen to a few podcast episodes on your commute to work without the benefit of a WiFi connection. Well, you will have to either do a wired sync to iTunes in order to get those selected downloads, or you will need to open the iTunes app on your device, search for the podcast episodes you want to hear and manually download them. What a pain. If you’re streaming content from your computer, you should be able to select and download it to your device.
Despite these drawbacks, let us know how Home Sharing is working for you.