This premature blog is a response to this article about iTunes on Android as I was just configuring our own family music center. Some thoughts from our feasibility study regarding iTunes on Android:
The situation is not trivial, but in this house we miss only an Android iTunes media player with the option to play via Airplay (or Chromecast), and which also serve more or less any walkman device with music in a synchronized manner like it does with iPods.
I would gladly pay some 50$ for an iTunes client that I could use on all my devices, so why aren’t Apple interested in that?
A 2015 scenario
Even in the days of streaming music from the internet, there is a need to store the library of traditional CD music, typically ripped into some drive somewhere in the house. It is there together with a bunch of records that were originally downloaded for HiFi reasons or whatever.
We use a Seagate wireless drive for that single music library consisting of many types of music and audio formats.
The first step towards an iTunes multi-user environment
It means all clients on the WiFi network may access that library. It would therefore be a good solution if the same media player client could be available on all terminals. Saves time. In this house the terminals are: Windows 8.1 laptops, Mac OS X laptops (Mountain Lion and Yosemite depending on age of machine), iPhones and NOT TO MENTION several Android devices. As of 2015, all of them are now using iTunes as primary media player, except the Android devices.
Annoying and Apple is to blame: Android not invited to party
All iTunes enabled devices are connected via airplay to apple TV, which is connected to our stereo (and TV). From Android devices we use the Seagate media player which is iTunes library compliant, and it connects to our stereo via a Chromecast. So the Android is just a control terminal for fetching music from the Seagate and sending it to an output (normally via chromecast or headphones). Just like all the iTunes terminals.
There is not a huge difference between seagate media player and iTunes from a user perspective, but it would be very good thing with an iTunes client for Android for two main reasons:
1. Same client everywhere = simplicity.
2. It would probably imply that iTunes could start to serve and synchronize devices like Sony Walkman for the situation you are out and about.
iTunes should offer compliance to Sony Walkman devices
Regarding Sony Walkman, for example nwz-ws615 with both bluetooth receiver and built in 32Gb hdd, it is much more handy than an iPod for e.g. your running session, to the extent that iPod is simply out of the question. No wires to the ear is the most important benefit.
It doesn’t help Apple one bit that their leaders out of principle will not serve walkmans. In 2015, this attitude insults me. I just use Media Go (a media player) from Sony which is also tapping into that Seagate library like a breeze reading iTunes library files. The only snag with Media Go is that its CPU usage may be 10% on a modern machine when iTunes is down to perhaps 0.5%. Hence Media Go could not take the role as the family media player.
(If you become aware of another iTunes client that is not eating up your CPU with bloatware nonsense activities, please let me know.)
Of course, iTunes playing a local or “sky” NAS is nowadays only an extra source of music streaming. Most of us spend 95% of our music-streaming-time on either Wimp (Tidal in the U.S.) or Spotify type of services. For both of these systems, the problem is solved, i.e. there is one client for a global music library. Good!
Come to think of it, Spotify has the ability to play “local” files. Perhaps I should do a tryout of that and throw out the iTunes client, except for one place where I use it for ripping to keep things in order over at the SeaGate?
Come on, serve the iTunes client for Android in 2015!
Suggestions for extended multi-user feature set for iTunes
Oh, and then there is one feature for a true and extended family multiuser environment that would be very nice, namely personalisation; the feature to personalize playlists and possibly also albums and songs overviews that are available from a shared NAS.
Because every member typically may be interested in having quick access to all music on the NAS music server, it is therefore necessary for the iTune client to be configured to use the itunes library indexing files stored on that common NAS. This is presently the only way to ensure that the database is updated.
However, since iTunes unfortunately is not designed for a true multi user environment, this configuration means that all playlists are common as well. While one user may occasionally be interested in a sneak preview into other users playlist, it soon becomes noisy as many users (read: Family members) start to be creative on the playlist front. Soon there is a hundred lists and it all becomes just noise; “Where has my playlist gone???”.
Try a multiuser setting for one Spotify account and you will see this.
Thus, Apple should rethink their database indexing file structure so that it is possible to use one common NAS index file for the grand total of music, while optionally having your own local index file for your personal selections, typically playlists.
So be a very trivial development task for a competent software engineer over at Apple.