Thanks to innovative software Simplify Media, sharing your killer iTunes library has never been easier. In the good ol’ days before DRM was such a hot topic, libraries could be shared unfettered across the Net. Simplify Media makes that possible once again by allowing users to invite others to browse and stream their iTunes to their own systems, whether they are in the next room or on the next continent.
The name is truly appropriate, I’ve found, as installing and configuring Simplify Media couldn’t be, well, simpler. There are no old-school Stuffit files to contend with; nor does Simplify Media require installing packages or rebooting. In the spirit of Mac simplicity, simply drag the app from the disk image into your Applications folder and run it. Configuration is nothing more than selecting the folder or folders with media you wish to share. The default /Users/username/Music/iTunes is already added to the list, so for most users, no additional configuration is needed.
Adding friends (and, please, only share with people you know; pirating music and videos is bad for you) is also easy. In the main Media List window (pictured right), click the Invite button and you’re presented with three different ways to invite a friend: a preexisting user’s screen name, by email direct from your account (as opposed to mail from Simplify Media’s server which is more likely to be flagged as spam by a friend), or by copying to the clipboard and pasting, for example, to Twitter, an IM client, or your blog.
When friends join Simplify, they “invite” your screen name. The two of you are connected are able to browse and stream — but not save files from — one anothers’ iTunes libraries. Simplify Media even streams WMA files. Obviously, DRM-locked files of any kind will not play on a remote computer unless that system is authorized to play them.
Is It Legal and Safe?
According to Simplify Media, sharing in such a way is legal because songs cannot be transferred from one person to another, burnt to disc, or accessed when a peer is offline. Also, each person can share with no more than 30 others, thus minimizing both the legal liability and the risk of nasties that can happen when connecting directly with other systems.
Interoperability Is Simple, Too
Those nasties can, actually, present an issue for others or those using Parallels, VMware, or Boot Camp, because Simplify Media is cross-platform and available for Windows as well as Mac OS X. In addition, the developers are working on a version to support both WinAmp and Windows Media Player — not that we Mac folk would care. ;-)
Simplify Media is exactly what has been missing from iTunes for years. This little app is completely free and promises not to spy on you. Running it for three days, I’ve yet to see the first sign of instability, and it handles streaming over 6-Mbps DSL quite well.
The only kickback Simplify apparently gets is that streaming a track pops open a window with links to purchase the currently playing album, should you decide you wish to do so.