Without a doubt the new iOS Home Sharing feature introduced in iOS 4.3 is a big deal, in fact it’s a huge deal. Strangely, it’s not talked about anywhere near as much as Hotspot tethering. I guess you could call this the sleeper-hit of 4.3.
Ever since I purchased my first iOS device back in 2007 – 4 years ago – I’ve wanted a way to easily (read: built into the OS) stream music from my iMac. Then with later iOS devices – think iPad to stream movies – this desire only became stronger. This feature always seemed a natural fit for the iOS/iTunes ecosystem, surely with Bonjour it would be a piece of cake to implement, right?
Time passed and Apple released the Remote app; it didn’t allow you to stream content from iTunes, it simply allowed gave you the ability to tell an AppleTV to stream from iTunes. Boring.
3 years later here it is. iOS 4.3 give us Home Sharing and the ability to stream content from iTunes direct to your iPhone/iPod/iPad using Home Sharing. Sadly the feature has to be turned on from settings and is not automatically configured from iTunes 10.2 (but let’s talk enhancements later).
How to setup iOS Home Sharing
1. If you haven’t already you need to setup iTunes for Home Sharing; from the iTunes menu Advanced > Turn on Home Sharing.
2. On your iOS device. Settings > iPod > scroll to Home Sharing and type in your Home Sharing username/password you configured in step 1.
3. Now open the iPod app. If you’re on an iPhone/iPod tap the More icon and then tap Shared.
If you’re using an iPad tap the Library header.
(If your iTunes library is large it might take a while).
Enhancements and Issues
I’d like iTunes to automatically recognise that I’ve not configured Home Sharing on the device and it asks me if I would like to pre-populate the Home Sharing credentials. This would reduce the complexity of setting up Home Sharing, and would also be following that great Apple motto, “It just works”.
I’ve had some issues moving between my iTunes library and the on device library. After leaving a iTunes share the iPod app does not recognise my Podcast collection and I have to restart the iPod app on the iPhone.
Interestingly on the iPhone you cannot add the Shared item on to the TabBar for quick and easy access.