Enjoying the hell out of iTunes Radio

iTunes Radio is a rev­e­la­tion to me. Not that I didn’t know what it was going to be like, I mean, intel­lec­tu­al­ly. I’ve used Pan­do­ra, after all. But Pan­do­ra was annoy­ing, brows­er-based, finicky, and I nev­er used it very long. When I first tried iTunes Radio yes­ter­day, while try­ing to write, I picked some of their pre-pro­grammed “sta­tions” and was all, meh. Their “iTunes Top 100: Alter­na­tive” has too much Killers in it. Which is to say, any Killers is too much. My taste is def­i­nite­ly Alt, but I like my alt more eclec­tic than that. And that Fall­out Boy song (Alone Togeth­er) sounds like Rihan­na in drag.

But today I made my own “sta­tion” based on a song in heavy rota­tion in our house, Lit­tle Brass Bear by Rachel Goodrich.

And it turns out, basi­cal­ly, that iTunes Radio is like Genius, but with the entire iTunes cat­a­log as your library. Which is freak­ing awe­some.

Of course, it also turns out that iTunes Radio is just like Pan­do­ra, Rdio, etc., but with­out the has­sle of using some­thing added on to my ecosys­tem. I am, as stat­ed else­where, ful­ly entrenched in the Apple ecosys­tem, and in here I am as hap­py as a bug that is snug in a rug.

My playlist so far:

Jay­may (one of my favorite songs, Gray or Blue!)
Woody Guthrie
Matthew and the Atlas
Kimya Daw­son
Lang­horne Slim
Thao
Lau­ra Veirs
Lind­sey Ray
The Col­or­ful Qui­et
Malv­ina Reynolds
Lucy Wain­wricht Roche (dang there are a lot of Wain­wrights, no?)
Cast Spells
Rachel Goodrich

I’ve heard of… six of those artists. I own one of the songs I have heard so far. New music! Which is what makes this so awe­some.

iTunes Match Airport Wall Wart

Delight­ful name, no?

I would like Apple to build a wall wart1 that con­nects to my iTunes Match account (nee, my iCloud account) to stream music.

It should be very much like an Air­port Express, being wall-wartish, and hav­ing an audio out option, but it should be pur­pose built to con­nect to my music in my Apple ecosys­tem. I would set it up via my Apple i(OS)X device, con­nect to my WiFi, log in to iCloud, save my cre­den­tials, and it would be ready to go.

This mag­ic wart would then let me lis­ten to my music, via iTunes Match, with­out a com­put­er or a copy of iTunes run­ning. I wouldn’t have to plug my iPhone in any­where, or use minutes/battery to stream music. I wouldn’t have to “Start iTunes, Hon­ey, so we can lis­ten to music.” I could still use Remote (or iTunes on OSX?) to skip, pick a playlist, etc.

How sweet would that be?

Real­ly sweet.

Bonus, it would be ready for iRa­dio, or what­ev­er Apple calls their even­tu­al stream­ing music ser­vice.

Yes, I know this is very spe­cif­ic to the Apple ecosys­tem. And it would be fab if Apple would let you con­nect it to Pandora/Rdio/Spotify/whatnot, but Apple would nev­er do that. On the oth­er side, Apple would nev­er allow a third par­ty wall wart to con­nect to iTunes Match, so. I am, in my cir­cum­stances, stuck with Apple. I can live with that.

But I can’t live with­out this thing. Build it, Apple!


  1. wall wart (n): elec­tron­ic nub­bin with plug prongs on the back that you plug into the wall where it sits like a par­a­sitic lump, doing “some­thing.” 

Dear Apple, do you hate my family?

Just “watched” Apple’s lat­est from their World­wide Devel­op­ers Con­fer­ence, and they announced a lot of cool things, but they have left me, in the end, wor­ried.

In a nut­shell, Apple hates me (us).

Right now, we have one Mac, two iPhones and an iPad in the fam­i­ly (with anoth­er iPad on the way, we expect). We have music, movies, games, apps, etc. on all of these devices. (Note, “device” now includes Macs, as per Apple’s new nomen­cla­ture.) We have one hap­py Apple ID, and that Apple ID is tied to our ser­vice con­tracts for our hard­ware, our music pur­chas­es, our app pur­chas­es, and our device pro­files. With so many devices, you’d think we’d pay a for­tune buy­ing songs for each one!

But Apple (or the old Apple, at least) was nice about this. Using our one Apple ID on all of our devices, we could buy an app once, or a song once, and use it on all our devices. They all con­nect­ed to one account (on iTunes on the Mac) and if I didn’t want the iPad (which the kids use a lot) to have cer­tain songs, or cer­tain apps, then I could choose to leave them off. On sub­se­quent con­nec­tions, iTunes remem­bered that the iPad doesn’t get Cee Lo’s orig­i­nal record­ing, that my iPhone doesn’t get Sesame Street Live, and that my wife’s iPhone doesn’t get Solomon’s Keep.

Apple loved me and my fam­i­ly.

But now, I am not so sure.

Every­thing they just described today seems tied direct­ly to your Apple ID. When I get a new iPhone, all I have to do is enter my Apple ID and my pass­word, and whoosh, all my stuff is dropped in from the iCloud. And when I get a new iPad, whoosh! And when my wife gets a new iPhone, whoo..ait a minute. Does she have to have her own Apple ID? If she uses mine (ours) does she get all my (our) stuff? What if she doesn’t want that music, or those apps? What if I don’t want her (or the kids) to have that? Does all my mail show up on her phone? If we use the new iMes­sage (also tied to Apple ID, I think) are we just talk­ing to our­selves?

No prob­lem, you say, Apple IDs are free! She can get her own. And one for each of the kids, too! (And the dogs!) Okay, but then, does she have to buy all her own apps? Her own music? Has the gravy train come to a screech­ing halt?

Cause if that’s the case, you bet­ter betcha iCloud is free, bud­dy, since I’ll be spend­ing beau­coup bucks catch­ing all my “devices” up to where they were before the mag­ic hap­pened.

Here’s hop­ing they didn’t show us some kind of pro­file fea­ture in iCloud.

24 hours is not enough to watch a digital movie rental

Okay, I touched on this in my Mac­world cov­er­age, but it deserves its own post.

We have a TiVo Series 3 that con­nects to the Inter­net. I can see us own­ing an Apple TV at some point in the future. We are mem­bers of Net­flix. All three of these allow for some form of dig­i­tal movie rentals. The TiVo uses Amazon’s Unbox ser­vice. Apple TV uses iTunes. And Net­flix uses… well, you can only watch their movies on a PC, so screw ‘em.

The oth­er two have a pret­ty con­sis­tent pol­i­cy. Order a rental and you have thir­ty days to start watch­ing it before it is erased. Once you start to watch it, you have 24 hours to fin­ish it, watch it again, etc., before it is erased. And there­in lies the prob­lem.

My wife and I love the idea of dig­i­tal rentals. No movie store, lit­tle delay, prices are okay (if a lit­tle expen­sive). But we can only watch movies at night, after the boys are in bed. That means we start about 8:30 pm or so. And we have small boys. Small boys who wear us out. It is not impos­si­ble that we might be too tired to fin­ish watch­ing our movie. If we fail to fin­ish our movie, we must fin­ish it before 8:30 the next night, or we are out of luck. Our 24 hour win­dow will be closed.

That doesn’t work for us. I’m sur­prised that it would work for any­one with a reg­u­lar job, kids, or a life. Which doesn’t say much about the exec­u­tives at TiVo or Apple (you hearin’ me, Steve?). 24 hours does not work. It is a num­ber made up in a board­room.

The solu­tion is sim­ple. Make the watch­ing win­dow 36 hours. No big deal. I’d even accept 30 hours. Hell, I would grate­ful­ly take 26 hours. But please make it more then 24. Thank you.

The Master Home Computing Plan gets a wifi remote (updated)

You may or may not have read the Mas­ter Home Com­put­ing Plan, a post where I out­lined how and what my per­fect home com­put­ing plan was. That post is under review right now, but a cru­cial ele­ment has just been intro­duced by a com­pa­ny called iospir­it.

Enter Remote Bud­dy. Orig­i­nal­ly, this was soft­ware you installed on your Mac to enable new func­tions in your Apple Remote and/or your Wii remote. But now, they have added your iPhone or iPod Touch as a remote. New func­tions? Well, among oth­ers, the abil­i­ty to con­trol iTunes via Wifi. And not just con­trol. All the bells and whis­tles are there.

Check out the movie of Remote Bud­dy at work on an iPod Touch. As a frus­trat­ed remote iTunes user, this is sim­ply awe­some.

Our music set­up is pret­ty cool. We have all our music resid­ing on an Infrant NAS. iTunes on our iMac con­nects to that music, and sends it out via Air­Tunes to an Air­port Express. That is, in turn, con­nect­ed to a hob­by-built FM trans­mit­ter that sends the sig­nal out over 98.5 FM, and we lis­ten to it all over the house on our radios.

Until now, we had no way to remote­ly change the music. We had to fire up a lap­top to run one of any num­ber of mediocre remote itunes con­trollers. Or run down­stairs and change it on the iMac. Hard to do grace­ful­ly when you for­got to take Mr. Han­key out of the Christ­mas Music Mix before fam­i­ly came over.

Of course, we still don’t have a way to remote­ly change our music, as we don’t own an iPod Touch. But the future is com­ing.

Thanks to bbum for find­ing this first.

Update: bbum has come through again, this time down­load­ing and review­ing Apple’s own free iTunes remote for iPhone and iPod touch. He loves it.