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How to manage iTunes library with an iPad and w/o desktop/laptop computer?
January 17, 2011 11:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm retiring my home PC, in favor of an new iPad. How can I manage my existing iTunes library?

For years, I've managed my fairly extensive iTunes library of music on a desktop PC. From that PC, I synced my iPod and iPhone; in other words, the PC was the "hub", and my iPod and iPhone were peripheral devices.

However, I recently got an iPad, and I'm close to retiring my PC.

(Given how I use computers these days - I don't really have a need for a PC. I can get away with just the iPad, iPod, and iPhone. I have a desktop PC at work I can use for anything else...)

However, I can't figure out what to do with my iTunes library. Where would I store it? How could I manage it across devices? How can I sync between an iPad and iPhone/iPod?

This seems like a huge gap in Apple's strategy. It seems like Apple is saying - "for many people who really just surf the web and consume media - the iPad is all the computer you need."

However, if you have a pre-existing and sizeable iTunes library, and you intend to sync it across devices (e.g., iPod, iPhone) - how do you do this with just an iPad?

Specifically...

1. How do you get that library ON TO the iPad in the first place?
2. How do you get a subset of that library onto another device (e.g., and iPhone)?

Many thanks in advance for any advice and insight!
posted by stuehler to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
In Apple's current ecosystem, you still need a PC or Mac to act as the 'hub' where your central iTunes library is stored. There's no way around it.

OK, there might be a way that involves jailbreaking the iPad and using some 3rd-party iPod/iPhone management software, but it'll be ugly.
posted by zsazsa at 11:16 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Both iPods and iPads require some sort of "host" computer. Either for activating, syncing, or backing up. You also can't get any media on it except through the iTunes store.*

Ways around this:
1. Get a NAS (Network Attached Storage) with iTunes Server sharing. (Only usable on the same network)
2. Jailbreak your phone to allow direct file-system access
3. Wait for Apple to release a cloud-based wireless sync for music.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:18 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you just want to reduce clutter, get a cheap small PC or laptop and shove it out of the way in the closet as a server to stream music/video to your other devices. Even if you could sync between iOS devices, without a PC you're not going to be able to update the OS on any of them, nor will things go as smoothly when you need help. Any service call to Apple involves plugging an iDevices into iTunes for iCustomerservicescriptwalkthrough.
posted by pjaust at 11:36 AM on January 17, 2011


This seems like a huge gap in Apple's strategy.

Not really. If they made the PC/Mac irrelevant, they're cutting into a major source of revenue and profit. The strategy is to get you to buy a Mac, an iPhone and an iPad.And hopefully iPods, too.

Rather than retire your PC, use it like I use my old Mac as a iTunes machine. It has the my full MP3 and video collection and that's it. I sync my iOS devices on it. That's all it does. Also, don't forget the only way to update iOS software is by plugging it into iTunes running on a PC or Mac. And it doesn't hurt to sync your devices frequently so you have a backup if it crashes/lost/stolen.

You could run your PC headless and use a VNC app on the iPad to view the screen on it instead of keeping a monitor hooked up (same with mouse keyboard...I wouldn't get rid of these, but for most things you'd need to do on your iPad/iPhone/iPod you can use VNC and keep the peripherals in the closet).
posted by birdherder at 11:52 AM on January 17, 2011


I have been using an iPad and iPhone exclusively since the iPad's debut. I keep my iTunes library on a Windows-fomatted external hard drive. When I need to make changes I will plug this into a friends computer and open iTunes holding down option (shift on Windows) and select it as the library. I can then sync my iPad and iPhone without losing anything.
posted by blackiron at 11:58 AM on January 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a Synology-brand NAS box that can stream audio/video locally. Add a service like DynDNS and you can go anywhere you've got a connection. Your ISP's uplink is a big limiting factor, especially if you want to stream video out of the house. Best I can get is 60kbps up, and that's plenty for high-bitrate MP3s (V2 LAME, FWIW). Running with video means either small-res or sticking with a PC for syncing. This is running Synology's DLNA/UPNP server.

There are other cloud-based services that might be available for this, but if your collection is bigger than 10GB, the prices can trend up and away. As much as I like to browse a dozen seasons of a TV show with a few touches, as far as simplicity goes, PC sync is it.
posted by fishpatrol at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2011


If Apple doesn't get their cloud-act together, others will. Real Networks (yes, I know) is going to be launching UNIFI, their cloud based storage solution for ALL your media. Reports from CES say it's going to be fixed-price for unlimited storage. I'm hoping it might be a solution for this exact problem.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:24 PM on January 17, 2011


If Apple doesn't get their cloud-act together, others will. Real Networks (yes, I know) is going to be launching UNIFI, their cloud based storage solution for ALL your media. Reports from CES say it's going to be fixed-price for unlimited storage. I'm hoping it might be a solution for this exact problem.

I would be very surprised if Apple let someone else's cloud service be used to sync an iPhone and iPad. Frankly, I think the thought has already occurred to Apple, but the technology might be wanting.

One might be able to keep and manage a media collection on an iPad or iPhone, but without a PC/Mac, I see no way to synchronize between the two. You might be able to cheat around this by keeping the media collection on a Mac or PC and stream to either device, but there are other issues there.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:06 PM on January 17, 2011


If you replaced the Apple devices with their Android equivalents, you could do this.
posted by rfs at 7:17 PM on January 17, 2011


Also, how will you update the software on your iDevices without a hub?
posted by razzamatazm at 8:26 PM on January 18, 2011


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