Rumors in recent months have pointed to Apple’s next big music innovation being some cloud-based service. While nothing has appeared as of yet, its move to support streaming of music stored on a customers iDisk could be the beginning.
Users of Apple’s iDisk app for iPhone can stream audio from their iDisk thanks to the latest update to the app shipped earlier last month. The functionality went all but unnoticed because Apple has done little if anything to promote its existence.
It should be noted that this isn’t exactly iTunes in the cloud as only unprotected MP3 and AAC files seem to be compatible with the streaming functionality. Additionally, only one file can be selected to play at a time as there’s no real user interface specifically for the streaming functionality.
Either way, the ability to play music in the background is a much-publicized feature of iOS4 and seems to suggest at least at face value that the company may be making a move towards offering streaming capabilities. Apple typically holds a music-related event in September, and this may be a tease of what may be to come.
The music labels may be the biggest roadblock to allowing fully functional steaming. The labels — and namely Universal Music Group — have maintained that any kind of streaming would require licensing and per-stream fee payments, meaning Apple would need to pay the labels every time it streams a track to the customers.
Given Apple’s typical silence regarding its business practices, it is not clear whether or not the company has any kind of agreement on such a licensing structure as a result of this functionality.
“Apple’s actions are testing the limits about what they can do without record labels protesting,” MP3Tunes CEO Michael Robertson said in a blog post.