Home Sharing back again in iOS 9

As we speculated in our previous post, Apple has restored the much commiserated removal of Home Sharing from the Music app in the recent release of iOS 9.

You switch it on the same way you did prior to iOS 8.4 which bizarrely removed the feature without any notice.  We guess that it was removed because of Apple's desire to ship 8.4 with Apple Music which entirely replaced the previous music app, and now they've had some time to re-add the missing component.

For anyone who doesn't know, Home Sharing for the Music app gives your iPhone / iPad the ability to stream music from an iTunes library running on a desktop version of iTunes.  This is of course of interest to iHomeServer users many of whom use iTunes on a headless server to consolidate their personal music library and then stream from that library to all their devices.  This was no longer in the iOS 8.4 update but fortunately, is now fully restored in iOS 9.

For more details on how to enable it please see this link: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT202190

Home Sharing issues with iOS 8.4

We want to advise iHomeServer users that in an attempt to rush out Apple Music, it looks like Apple didn't finish developing Home Sharing functionality for the new music app in iOS 8.4

As such, if you upgrade your iOS device to 8.4 you will lose the ability to stream music from your iHomeServer / iTunes server to your device.

This does not affect Apple TV or if you use iTunes to stream your music - these still work fine, and you can still stream your movies/television episodes to the Videos app on iOS 8.4.

For a workaround, you can use iHomeServer's web interface for iTunes which will let you navigate your iTunes library and stream media direct to your device.

Fortunately, it looks as if this is just a temporary thing, with Apple's Eddy Cue confirming that iTunes Home Sharing will be brought back to the Music app in iOS 9 which should be released in a few months time.  We are counting the days!!!

See http://arstechnica.com/apple/2015/07/eddy-cue-apple-working-to-bring-back-itunes-home-sharing-for-ios-9/ for further information.


Using iTunes 12.x 64-bit with iHomeServer

*** Updated post for iTunes 12.2 **

Apple released iTunes 12.1 for Windows 64-bit in April.  Although labelled as a minor upgrade, under the covers, Apple has made a major change to the distribution for 64-bit Windows.  iTunes 12.2 has just been released and shares the same issue.

The 12.x upgrade has a major flaw that it has removed support for importing / playing videos for computers with 'old' (in Apple's terms) video cards.  This seems to include virtual machines running iTunes.  It also affects iHomeServer when iHomeServer is running iTunes in the background as a service (because the Windows service session uses a virtual graphics card rather than your real hardware one).

Therefore, if you are using iHomeServer to run iTunes in the background on a 64-bit operating system such as Windows Server 2012, Windows Home Server 2011, or Windows 7 64-bit, you may find that iHomeServer is no longer able to add video files to your iTunes library.  You can verify this is because of the upgrade by looking in the 'Messages' window of iHomeServer.  You may see a message similar to the following (note this message is coming from iTunes, not from iHomeServer):

Video playback is not supported on this computer.

Fortunately, for the time being, there is a quick resolution to this.  Apple has provided an alternative download package for iTunes 12.x that continues to support 'old' graphics cards.  We have started testing this with iHomeServer running iTunes in the background and it behaves as before, correctly importing movie files.  The link for this download is here:

https://support.apple.com/kb/DL1816

We will continue to work to find solutions for iHomeServer, and hope that Apple expands its compatibility of 64-bit iTunes version to remove this major constraint.  

In the meantime, we ask users not to upgrade to future versions of iTunes until we have verified compatibility or identified similar workarounds.

Accessing iTunes across a VPN

As most of you know, iHomeServer for iTunes provides a web interface that lets you access your iTunes library from most modern web devices such as PCs, tablets, smart phones, etc. Access to the web interface is limited to devices running on your local subnet because the connection is unencrypted and by default there is no authentication.

So what if you want to access your iTunes library remotely?

Well, we provide a secure way of doing this through our web site http://www.StreamMyiTunes.com.  After you have set up iHomeServer on your computer, you can create an account on StreamMyiTunes.com and then login securely with those credentials.  You'll then be able to connect back to your home iHomeServer computer through a secure encrypted channel.

This works great for most users.  However, if you are an advanced user and access your home network via VPN you may not be able to access your iHomeServer's web interface at all.  This is because you'll probably be coming from a different subnet to the subnet hosting your iHomeServer.  iHomeServer will therefore redirect you back to StreamMyiTunes to try to authenticate you.

This behaviour is because iHomeServer determines which connections are in your local network by checking the subnet of the incoming request with the subnet of your iHomeServer.  Fortunately, you can tell iHomeServer about additional subnets which form part of your local network by adding a registry key.

You can find details of how to add this key here:

http://bugs.bizmodeller.com/view.php?id=304

 

 

 

 

iHomeServer now supports iTunes 12

Quick post to let you know that we have completed compatibility testing between iHomeServer v3 and iTunes 12 and are pleased to confirm official support for iTunes 12.

From your feedback in the past month, there's been a large number of iHomeServer users already using iTunes 12 on their system.

Please note that iTunes 12 is only supported on iHomeServer for iTunes v3

 

 

iHomeServer iTunes 12 compatibility testing nearing completion!

Apple released iTunes 12 a few weeks ago offering a sleek new flatten & minimalist interface plus various new features and performance inprovements.  This is a very quick post to let you know that our formal compatibility testing between iHomeServer and iTunes 12 is nearly complete and so far looking good.

 

 

We already have hundreds of users who are successfully running iTunes 12, however we will announce formal support here, on our official website, and of course our Twitter feed in the coming days.

Fed up with Windows lying about your connection status when tethering?

We were!

So we wrote "Tether Check".  Tether Check's a Windows app that runs in Desktop mode and sits in the system tray area monitoring your internet connection:

It's perfect if you tether your laptop to your mobile phone / 3G dongle / etc because without it, it's virtually impossible to know whether you have reception or not on your phone without pulling your phone out of your pocket.

When you go out of reception, a semi-transparent alert appears in the bottom of the your screen so you know that internet applications may be unavailable.  More importantly, when you get reception back again, another alert lets you know you can continue to use the internet.

We found that it massively decreases the stress of working on laptops when out and about, because you are no longer blind to your phone's internet connection.  Having feedback on when you have or don't have internet access means you can focus on other tasks when you're out of signal.

Tether Check also gives you a graph showing your connection history over the past few minutes so you can see how reliable your connection has been before you do something critical like make an on-line purchase.

Try it for free and let us know what you think!

An iHomeServer Christmas - v3 Feature Sneak

iHomeServer version 3 is completing its beta testing and we are in the process of preparing for a full release. Feedback on new features from our awesome beta testers has been overwhelmingly positive and so we are working as fast as we can to get the functionality to all of you. This will be a late Christmas present….or even a reason to look forward to January!

To understand the power of iHomeServer v3, close your eyes and picture yourself late on a snowy Christmas afternoon.  You have opened your presents including the latest series of your favourite TV DVD box set from Aunt Amelia. Put it into your server / PC and iHomeServer v3 will automatically rip the DVD so that each episode is copied into your iTunes library and tagged with metadata and cover art. As with iHomeServer v2, you can now watch it from any of your Apple TV (or any other iOS device) through Home Sharing.

By the end of the first episode, the rest of the family’s asleep so you sneak through to the kitchen where you’ve placed that flashy new Smart TV you bought so you could watch TV whilst you cook! With iHomeServer v3, you are not limited to Apple devices – iHomeServer allows most Smart TVs to directly stream your iTunes music and videos (using DLNA).  You choose the iHomeServer icon on the TV, navigate your iTunes library and start watching the second episode whilst enjoying a digestif.

On Boxing Day, you are going to the in-laws. Oh, how to get through the day. You grab your Android tablet and comfort yourself with the knowledge that with iHomeServer v3 your iTunes library is accessible over the internet.  After a suitable interlude making polite conversation, you excuse yourself and find a comfy quiet corner.  You tap your tablet and log in to iHomeServer’s streaming web site, enter your username and password and smile when you see your entire iTunes library is now available from your tablet straight over the internet.  You didn’t have to remember to upload anything to the cloud, or download to your device.  It’s just there. You tap the next episode and watch it as it starts to stream. 

Then calamity strikes: 10 minutes in and the picture starts to stutter a bit … even though you’re on 3G, mobiles just can’t stream the movie at full bandwidth.  You tap the transcode button and choose a lower bitrate.  iHomeServer v3 now continues to stream the episode at a lower rate and the stuttering disappears. You sit back, relax and finish watching, waiting for your wife to come and take you home.

 

Christmas is over for another year, but you can look forward to holidays and even work knowing that you can hook into your music, films and television whenever and wherever needed.

Installing or Upgrading WHS v1 (32-bit) to iTunes 11.1

Just a quick post to point out a couple of interesting things when upgrading to iTunes 11.1.

Firstly, if you try to download iTunes from Internet Explorer on WHS v1, Apple will unfortunately redirect you to download the 64-bit version of iTunes.  WHS v1 is, of course, a 32-bit operating system so it just won't work.  You'll get an error such as:

"The image file xxxx\iTunes64Setup.exe is valid, but is for a machine time other than the current machine"

To get around this, we found that the following link from Apple still allows a 32-bit copy of iTunes 11.1 to be downloaded:

http://www.apple.com/uk/itunes/affiliates/download/

Note that Apple still doesn't support running iTunes on WHSv1 so you may receive an error saying "Apple Mobile Device Support requires that your computer is running Windows XP SP2 or newer".  If you do (which you probably will on Windows Home Server v1), then don't forget about our free tool which modifies the iTunes install package to enable running on WHS no problems :)  - we've retested this for iTunes 11.1 and it's good to go.

 

 

 

iHomeServer v3 has started beta testing!

We haven't posted for a while, however, want you to know that we haven't been sitting back relaxing.  Instead, we have been working hard on the next major release of iHomeServer - version 3.

Version 3 will continue to do all the great things that many of you have come to appreciate with iHomeServer v2, however, will add a LOT of new features.

We feel these features will be equally useful to desktop and server users alike and therefore the release aims to make iHomeServer more accessible for desktop users who have a single computer and run iTunes on it.  They can then take advantage of existing features such as Watch Folders and the advanced metadata editing facilities we have built into iHomeServer in addition to all the new bells and whistles which we have built on top of the iHomeServer framework.

So what's in the new release?  At the moment, this is a closely guarded secret so you'll have to wait a few more weeks, however, I hope you will be pleased with what we have added.

Beta testing is currently by invitation only, therefore there is unfortunately no public link available today.  However, within the next couple of weeks we will open up the beta to everybody.

In the meantime, if you are particularly interested to get your hands on the latest release, drop us a mail at the usual address - support@bizmodeller.com.