Thursday, August 07, 2008

Upping the ante with iTunes to become the family Media Hub

There is a fascinating discussion in the comments on Paul Beard's blog about capabilities for iTunes. The post was pointed to by the TUAW blog because Paul provides some detailed instructions on how to move an iTunes library. Something I have experienced much pain with after upgrading to a new Mac.

The challenge with all this is to retain the play count and ratings information. Moving or importing songs in to a library is the easy part. Apple handle's that with ease.

This points to Apple needing to update iTunes to recognize a growing trend - The family music and photo library.

We should be able to consolidate music and photo collections and then be easily able to create a subset of those libraries that we can carry with us on our laptops and still sync the full library to our iPods.

I reached a point a while ago where I couldn't carry my entire library on my Laptop. I am sure there are many MacBook Air users that faced the same problem. Solving this problem would make the Macbook Air more attractive as a second machine.

What I want is to be able to create an extract of my main music and photo library and yet be able to sync my iPod using the combined libraries from my laptop.

I developed a work around for this. I setup a central iTunes Music Library and made the drive/folder shareable. I then map to the drive from my local machine. Then open the shared folder and drag and drop the tracks in to the library on my laptop. For this to work you need to go in to the iTunes Preferences Advanced Tab and make sure that the option to "Copy files to iTunes Music Folder when adding to library" is unchecked. This creates a pointer to the original track on the shared folder. It may not be pretty but it works.

Come on Apple, if you really want to be the hub of the family entertainment system then make these more complex scenarios work. Streaming from different libraries just doesn't cut it. We, the people have invested heavily in our digital media collections and if you want to be the preferred platform then you need to make it easier for us to protect and share within the family unit at least.

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