Media streaming with iDisk; the start of cloud-based iTunes?

In a recent update to Apple’s online backup and file storage service iDisk, users can now play media stored on their iDisk through any connected mobile device. According to Michael Robertson of the music service MP3tunes, this could very well the first step Apple is taking in a long road that may bring them towards more open media sharing and streaming policies. While the functionality isn’t robust by any means – it isn’t iTunes playlist compatible, for instance – it is most definitely something we haven’t from seen from Apple to date. Most content providers require that services that stream media files be licensed to do so, and Apple typically errs on the side of caution when it comes to the publishers.

Either way, this functionality isn’t something that’s obvious to enable. It’s not difficult by any means, but Apple is certainly not advertising this as part of the iDisk system; it doesn’t show up in the official feature list. You have to access the “more” menu to enable the option to “Play audio from your iDisk while using another app.”

Image Credit: MichaelRobertson.com

As Apple begins preparing for cloud based iTunes, this could turn into the first small skirmish the company has with content providers over licensing. If Apple follows through on the promise, however, this definitely won’t be the last battle. 

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31 Comments

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Uplift said,
what are the benefits of iDisk over something like dropbox?

depends on the person. do you only need 2g of space. Dropbox has a free version for that so that's obviously the best option for you. Do you need more than 2g but not more than 20g of space? If so its cheaper to go with iDisk because its only $100 a year. Do you need more than that? Dropbox is your choice again with the 50g plan for ~$120 a year.

You could always play music from the iDisk app. Just, now it also plays music in the background.

WebDAV (which is what idisk uses) support sucks monkey balls in Windows and wasn't updated in 7. So, yeah, if you are using Windows and it seems like iDisk is slow send your complaint letter to MS or buy WebDrive for $60 which implements proper WebDAV support.

Linux and Mac OS X handle WebDAV very well. Shouldn't have any problems on these platforms.

Shadrack said,
You could always play music from the iDisk app. Just, now it also plays music in the background.

WebDAV (which is what idisk uses) support sucks monkey balls in Windows and wasn't updated in 7. So, yeah, if you are using Windows and it seems like iDisk is slow send your complaint letter to MS or buy WebDrive for $60 which implements proper WebDAV support.

Linux and Mac OS X handle WebDAV very well. Shouldn't have any problems on these platforms.

That explains the difference in performance between mine in OSX and my gf's in Windows.

Shadrack said,
You could always play music from the iDisk app. Just, now it also plays music in the background.

WebDAV (which is what idisk uses) support sucks monkey balls in Windows and wasn't updated in 7. So, yeah, if you are using Windows and it seems like iDisk is slow send your complaint letter to MS or buy WebDrive for $60 which implements proper WebDAV support.

Linux and Mac OS X handle WebDAV very well. Shouldn't have any problems on these platforms.


I agree, I noticed this too with an iPhone app that gave me WiFi via WebDAV. Windows uses some sort of *horribly* slow implementation of that protocol. Fortunately, that app supported HTTPS too, and it's ridiculous how much faster Windows was at that.

I think Win7 didn't update it because it's simply a low-profile feature according to Microsoft, and not much to bother spending resources on. However, that's changing somewhat now with all these apps for various mobile phones and platforms that want to integrate cloud-based services with the desktop. Hopefully, Windows 8 fixes this!

Shadrack said,
You could always play music from the iDisk app. Just, now it also plays music in the background.

WebDAV (which is what idisk uses) support sucks monkey balls in Windows and wasn't updated in 7. So, yeah, if you are using Windows and it seems like iDisk is slow send your complaint letter to MS or buy WebDrive for $60 which implements proper WebDAV support.

Linux and Mac OS X handle WebDAV very well. Shouldn't have any problems on these platforms.

Make sure you don't have Internet Options>LAN setings (search from Start menu or use IE Connection tab) set to automatically detect settings. I'm not sure if it's a bug or not but that can really screw with WebDAV for some reason.

GreyWolf said,

Make sure you don't have Internet Options>LAN setings (search from Start menu or use IE Connection tab) set to automatically detect settings. I'm not sure if it's a bug or not but that can really screw with WebDAV for some reason.

Thanks for the tip. I tried it and rebooted. Still painfully slow . Are there other settings?

It sat at 108 bytes/second for awhile. Now it is up to 36.2KB/second. I have a feeling it is going to timeout, it looks stuck.

I'm trying to upload a a 75MB file. I have the iDisk mapped to a drive letter. When I tried the free trial of WebDrive it was really really fast. Consistent 3mbps upstream, and 8-16mbps downstream. But $60, ouch . I just use the web site for uploading files as that uses my full connection.

Dropbox works the best on all platforms. I mostly rely on that.

these day,more and more cloud service is ready to be mainstream.there is a desktop app call "tonido"
also can stream through your selection of music folder as well.Definitely more stuff

I don't see a "More" menu in the iDisk iPhone application...
Anyone has enabled this function yet?

I have iDisk version 1.2 on my iPhone 4

Cool find. LOL Reminds me of back in the day when I had an Amiga 500, there was a freeware spreadsheet app called Excel. I wonder if Microsoft ever sued them over that one?

roadwarrior said,
Cool find. LOL Reminds me of back in the day when I had an Amiga 500, there was a freeware spreadsheet app called Excel. I wonder if Microsoft ever sued them over that one?

If they had tried they would have lost. MS Excel wasn't made until 1993ish I think. Even without that, its hard to sue over freeware since there is generally no profit. About all it can accomplish is stopping the distribution of the software. These days that is an impossible task because of all the sites that distribute freeware for you once it hits the web.

SaltLife said,
Interesting, hope to see where this goes, and what the competition will have to offer.

By "competition" you mean Google?!

efthlouk said,

By "competition" you mean Google?!

Or Microsoft?

As for Google, I'm already able to stream audio from my home network... it would be simple to write an app to stream media from a web storage service such as DropBox, so I suppose if Google made a nice cloud based storage system (unless they already have and I've not seen it?), making an app like this would be a walk in the park.

JustinN said,

Or Microsoft?

As for Google, I'm already able to stream audio from my home network... it would be simple to write an app to stream media from a web storage service such as DropBox, so I suppose if Google made a nice cloud based storage system (unless they already have and I've not seen it?), making an app like this would be a walk in the park.

You can do the same if you have a Zune Pass. It will let you stream whatever you want over a browser connection. I believe Windows 7 lets you access your media over the internet as well, but I haven't tried it.

GreyWolf said,

You can do the same if you have a Zune Pass. It will let you stream whatever you want over a browser connection. I believe Windows 7 lets you access your media over the internet as well, but I haven't tried it.


XP,vista and 7 have ISS so you can stream it if you set it up.

My MobileME just lapsed, money not well spent. iDisk was slow as EFFFFFF! (all of mobileme web based stuff was) Add to that slow iOS 4.0 on my 3G. The two together are probably a delight to use....NO THANKS

rrode74 said,
My MobileME just lapsed, money not well spent. iDisk was slow as EFFFFFF! (all of mobileme web based stuff was) Add to that slow iOS 4.0 on my 3G. The two together are probably a delight to use....NO THANKS

The 3G runs ridiculously SLOW on 4 or better.. So I'm done with it: iPhone 4 your mine! why dont you go on and buy the 4 as well?

efthlouk said,

The 3G runs ridiculously SLOW on 4 or better.. So I'm done with it: iPhone 4 your mine! why dont you go on and buy the 4 as well?

Did you try the fix that was posted ? Worked on mine...

RedMike said,

Did you try the fix that was posted ? Worked on mine...

Fix did not work as well as downgrading for me. Work provides my 3G, so I cant complain all that much. In Janurary I can upgrade and I am hoping ATT has some good Windows Phone 7 devices. Either that or DroidX/EVO phone on ATT. I am done with Apple products.

excalpius said,
Which AT&T will bill you for streaming since it's data...

and? i already pay 30 a month for my 5gig data plan. not exactly expensive since even with streaming it would only use about 2g or 3g a month max since i have the common sense to connect to my wireless router when im at home and work. i get the 2 to 3 from the way i already use my phone. internet radio while driving. even if i managed to pass the 5g limit o well. just buy more bandwidth. people are so cheap these days. does everyone really expect free everything?

ILikeTobacco said,

and? i already pay 30 a month for my 5gig data plan. not exactly expensive since even with streaming it would only use about 2g or 3g a month max since i have the common sense to connect to my wireless router when im at home and work. i get the 2 to 3 from the way i already use my phone. internet radio while driving. even if i managed to pass the 5g limit o well. just buy more bandwidth. people are so cheap these days. does everyone really expect free everything?

Considering the amount of $ these companies make compared to the cost of their network maintenance, how much they invest in building new towers and so forth compared to their profit, it's easy to understand why he made that comment. Cell companies in America make BANK because they overcharge.

Just because $30 or $60 is a joke to you, doesn't mean it is for everyone else.