Much as I love Apple and Steve Jobs (good to have you back, Steve), I must confess that I take what Apple’s Marketing says with a grain of salt. Reality sometimes fails to live up to the hype. I know, some of you are thinking "he speaks heresy!" Think back to the whole MobileMe Push-isn’t-really-Push and you’ll know what I mean.
While I like iTunes, the truth is I use it for a subset of functions (manage iPhones, iPods, and our Apple TV; sometimes play music; buy music; manage podcasts; etc.). I’m not a power user in the least. So when iTunes 9 showed up in the Software Update I yawned and flipped through the new features.
Home Sharing caught my eye. Our primary iTunes library is on the Mac mini. Four of the Mac laptops are "authorized users" under my iTunes ID. Of the laptops, mine is the "backup" machine for music. I buy most of the music for my wife and I so it made sense. She is more of a video buff so most of the movies and TV shows are her choice. I copy the MPEG-4 files to DVDs for backup.
One of the reasons I was excited about Home Sharing over the "stream sharing" method we had before is now you can copy the files directly from one iTunes instance to another. Before I would have to mount the iTunes drive and then import the files to get them into the database. Pain in the butt! Add to that the fact that I have been "upgrading" my iTunes library to iTunes+1 music (ala non-DRM) so we can play it on other devices we have (like the PS3, PSP, "non-authorized" Macs and PCs). Home Sharing makes it easy for me pull the DRM’d stuff out of my iTunes libraries and replace it with the non-DRM’d stuff.
The other thing I love about Home Sharing is now you can compare two iTunes libraries (say a master and a backup) and figure out what’s missing. Do this by selecting the shared library (A), change the Show option from "All Items" to "Items not in my library" (B), and then select and drag a song (C).
Now if we could just get that 5 machines changed to say 8 or 10, that would truly be awesome! Families do have multiple computers, Steve. (We have 8 machines in our house: 5 Mac laptops, 2 PC laptops, and a Mac mini at last count, plus a PS3, a PSP, and some other goodies. Look, some people collect cars, I collect electronics!)
1. I’ve been upgrading since they first allowed it so my individual bills each time are fairly small. If I had to do it all at once, ouch! This is one of those things Apple just needs to get over and allow people to upgrade piece-meal. The current "big bang" policy is costing Apple, the labels and the artists revenue.