Fast Company

Apple Sneaks Out Music Streaming

iTunes streaming

Apple spent a bunch of cash on Lala, and recent rumors have surfaced that the team has been absorbed into a different part of Apple than you'd expect--they may be working on a video streaming power, ready to deliver content to iPads and a revamped Apple TV. But with some iDisk shenanigans, Apple's just done something surprising.

Michael Robertson, who founded poineering music site MP3.com, notes that buried in the release notes for the recently updated version of its iDisk app for iPhones, Apple's let its "devices stream music from [iTunes] online storage in a useful manner for the first time." Robertson notes that it might appear to be in contravention of the usual licenses required to stream music versus download it.

By tinkering with the list of features of the newest iDisk version on the App Store, you can find this bullet point among its many other specs:

  • Play audio from your iDisk while using another app

And that means pretty much what you think it does. As part of iOS4's new multitasking powers, which are particularly aligned to playing audio in the background, you can now plop a file in your cloud-storage iDisk folder, and stream it via the iPod app while you're doing something completely different on your phone. You're still limited to files you actually already own, note, and there's no particular sophistication like playlist integration, but it's definitely cloud-based MP3 streaming. Robertson notes that this really "stretches" the record labels' position on audio file streaming, so we'll have to see if any of them get litigious, and force Apple to pull the app's powers (or perhaps charge for the privilege of streaming).

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