iPhone OS 4: iTunes streaming audio


I mentioned this during the iPhone live! #100 podcast, but iPhone OS 4 has taken a huge leap forward when it comes to streaming audio via the iTunes app. Since iPhone OS 2.2 you've been able to tap the title of a podcast to begin streaming (rather than downloading) the audio, even in the background while using other apps, but it was sometimes hit or miss. It would drop out, it would time out, you couldn't really scrub through it, and if you left it for a while it would lose its place and start over.

In iPhone OS 4 it's rock solid. You can scrub and it re-buffers and keeps playing flawlessly. You can stop it and come back hours or even days later -- even after using the iTunes app to search for other things or the iPod app to play different audio -- and it still knows where you left off and starts playing again instantly without missing a beat.

It's so good you may find you no longer download or sync podcasts but just stream what you want to listen to. (If they let you "subscribe" and receive notifications of when a new podcast appeared in the feed, it would be perfect).

Maybe this is architecturally laying the underpinnings for a grander Apple streaming service, or maybe they just wanted this app to work great for this functionality. Either way, iTunes streaming audio in iPhone OS 4 is a significant improvement.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone OS 4: iTunes streaming audio


I am constantly streaming the tipb podcast but can't listen to it all at once so I have to come back to it and it always loses my spot. So annoying. Great to hear OS 4 will fix all this and more.
@WilhelmR - I once saw an app for that a while back and I thought what's the point in that when you can just permanently have music on thr iPhone. I'm not sure if it's in the app store anymore.

All podcatchers stream audio no? They are streamed from peoples Feedburner feeds among others. I am glad the streaming has been improved, but this is not new on any platform. (Nokia streaming since like 2002)

Now tell me why I should buy your phone. Well we have great streaming videos. Well so does every other device out there. Ours is better. I don't know, I have seen pertty good streaming on other devices. Well we got it right, I mean cutting edge. I know everyone else has it, but we got it right. I don't know, I am not sure yet. Hey ours is magical, and wonderful. Ok sign me up. I am sorry. Just felt in. A fun mood.

@buzzcheck My computer is on the bedroom, but i want to play music through the speakers on the living room using a 3.5 from the ipod to the stereo.
My ipod/t is full with apps most of the time, and syncing is such a pain.

Think you're letting them off the hook too easily here. Allowing you to subscribe to a feed for a podcast wouldn't make iTunes on the iphone 'perfect' it would make it 'adequate'. It's ridiculous this functionality has been left out for so long.

"9 hrs, 3 mins ago
Is there an app, to stream audio from the itunes library on my computer to my ipod/t?" ---yes. It's called Android 2.2.

So what about internet radio stations (ShoutCast) being supported in the mobile version of iTunes?
@Steve Woz : Podcasts, like any other media file online, can be played while downloading and can be streamed without saving the copy, however, traditionally podcasts have been downloaded first via the RSS feed then played locally.

@ WilhelmR
I looked for the app I was thinking of in the app store, but I couldnt find it. However I did find one called 'StreamToMe'. Hopefully that will help you. Otherwise you could buy an Airport Express with AirTunes from the apple store.

@WilHelr. In the app store there's an app called Orb. It dreams your audio, video and more from your librarys. Anything that's on your computer.

ok so orb is for intel g5's and ootunes is a major hassle that you have to be a network nerd to setup.
is there any possibility of another simplify media that worked flawlessly with a g4 running os 10.4.11???

I agree this is awesome. What would be more awesome is a utility that allowed me to bookmark my podcasts so I could go directly to them for streaming.

Joe Pa3 --- There is now Audiogalaxy ... I have found this to be the best replacement for Simplify Media.