Sunday, December 25, 2005

Why Apple won't fix AirTunes -- is it the microwave?

I fought a hard battle with Apple's AirTunes (Apple's wireless audio streaming) a few weeks ago.

It was very frustrating. The devils of Digital Rights Management, AirTunes fundamental inadequacy, and the lack of a fast-user-switching compatible tool for remote control of iTunes finally defeated me. SlimDevices and its ilk seemed like far better solutions, and I figured this spring I'd strip out the DRM on the music I paid for and switch to a non-Apple solution. At the moment though, my wife's Nano and some good playlists suffice.

Today I decided spring was too soon. I was streaming some music using AirTunes. A rare event, but I do it on occasion. All was well, until the music vanished. I wondered what was up; then I realized the microwave was running. It's not all that old a model, but it is death to our 802.11b LAN. That's bad for routine web work, but it's fatal for streaming music -- especially the minimally compressed AirTunes stream.

Maybe streaming MP3 or AAC directly, or enabling communication robustness (microwave resistance) would help. Or maybe wireless audio streaming won't really work until we switch to entirely new forms of wireless networking (ultra wideband, etc). If so, then this may explain why Apple has left AirTunes twisting in the wind ... They may have reason to believe it's not fixable.

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