Apple just eliminated one of the hassles of using the iPhone and iPad to consume content — you either had to buy it directly on the device, or connect the device to your PC or Mac periodically to sync it.But with iOS 4.3, coming on the iPad 2 in a couple weeks, you will be able to transfer stream media from your iTunes library on your computer directly to an iPad or iPhone over a wireless network — no wires required.
The feature is called iTunes Home Sharing, and it’s been around in the software since September 2009, when iTunes 9 was released. But Apple is now bringing it to iOS as well.
For what it’s worth, Microsoft’s ill-fated Zune player has been able to sync media libraries via Wi-Fi since 2007, but nobody bought it so the feature went largely unnoticed. Wireless sync is also part of Windows Phone 7 — again, same problem.
This isn’t quite the same thing — streaming requires you to be on the same network, so you can’t sync wirelessly and bring songs with you — but it still gives you a way to listen to your entire iTunes library without plugging your device in.
Other features in iOS 4.3 include:
- AirPlay improvements to let you stream video from within iPhone/iPad apps to other devices on a network
- A software switch that lets you change the side button’s function to be either volume mute or orientation lock.