UPDATE: Sharing iTunes With Both iPhone and iPad?


It’s now less than a week before thousands will have new iPads (s aapl) in hand(s), and while we know quite a bit about the new slate there is one question that is still unanswered. No doubt many of the new iPad owners already own iPhones, the numbers alone indicate that is likely. That means that many of us will already have a device (iPhone) that is linked to our iTunes music library. How does adding a second device (iPad) impact that association?

I am probably not alone in that hundreds of the purchased songs in my iTunes collection is infested with DRM. I only buy DRM-free versions since that option became available, but most of the oldest songs in my collection are hobbled by that nasty DRM. The collection is sitting on my iPhone just fine, and since the device is linked to my iTunes library it works just as it should. When I add the iPad to the mix it is not clear how (if at all) that music will work on the iPad.

Sure I can disassociate the iPhone from the iTunes library once I get the iPad, but that doesn’t interest me. I don’t envision the iPad becoming my giant iPod of choice, the iPhone works well in that role. But I do want to put the collection on the iPad so that I can play the music should I desire. It’s only fair that I be able to do so, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one who will want to do it.

So how exactly is this going to work? Is the DRM scheme that iTunes uses going to prohibit new iPad owners from playing music on both an iPhone and an iPad? I certainly hope not, it would be unfair to spend big bucks on an iPhone and then an iPad, only to find it impossible to link them both to my iTunes account at the same time.

UPDATE: I’m hearing from users who say this should work just fine, as long as you don’t want to have separate libraries on the two devices. Adding the iPad should work, as long as the same user and library is synced to both. Thanks everyone who jumped in quickly.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):


john rotor

as long as you don’t want to have separate libraries on the two devices……
i want 2 separate librarys i want my big collection on my ipad and only a few on my iphone how do i do?
fuking stupid itunes… why do they let us manage it like a hard drive?????


The only problem I am facing (and googling for a solution brought me here) is where there is an iPad and iPhone version of the same app. The iPad version is sometimes named the same and simply has a higher version number. In my case I bought my iPad before buying my iPhone, so now when I try to install the iPhone version over the iPad version, it tells me that a newer version already exists, so I have to choose only one device to run that particular app on.


Hmm.. my experience is different. The digital copy of Family Guy – comes free on the DVD – will only sync to one of my iPods – if I want it on my TOuch, I lose it on my Nano.


Hi James,

After spending $100s of dollars on iphone apps – will these be synced straight to the ipad? or will I have to buy them again? Hope not – some cost $30 – and when you add up all the ones that cost 99cents!

I can’t seem to google this answer.





Have you EVER even used iTunes with more than one device? This (and your followup comments) is pretty basic stuff that could be answered with five minutes on Google. Not a news post…


Robert Kawaratani

My suggestion would be to build some smart playlists to ensure that the music that you want on your iPad is synced to it. As others have noted, it’s easy to select what you want synced with your iPhone or iPods. Presumably this would be true for the iPad as well.

Bernard Fife

I just hope and pray that Mr. Jobs allows this to happen. It would be a real treat to use my existing iTunes.

Only Steve knows if this type of sharing will be allowed, the rest of you are just purely speculating at best. Remember Mr. Jobs must look at the BIG PICTURE and not your selfish individual needs.

Chris Fourie

I have several iPods and iPhones inked to my iTunes library. About 3 iPods, 2 Shuffles and 2 iPhones. All of them play music without hassles, both DRM and non-DRM. So I see no reason why adding another device – the iPad – would knock it off balance. I plan to get one… as soon as they are available in South Africa… :(

Tom Reestman

Looks like everyone already answered your questions.

I have an iPhone, iPod mini, iPod (80 GB), and iPod shuffle syncing with my iTunes library, and will be adding an iPad as well.

The beauty of multiple devices is all their settings are remembered individually. That means your iPad will remember that you want to sync everything, while your iPhone will remember whatever subset of playlists you have selected. Same is true of any podcast, movie, TV show, etc. settings.

Bernard Fife

Exactly. I think everyone is finally seeing the awesome power of iTunes.


To be honest you could have googled your way to this information in 10 seconds and not have to write a unnecessary post about it… having several idevices isn’t exactly a new thing


The sync settings are stored per device — for example, I have an 8gb iPhone that I have set to not sync any music, just apps and some TV show episodes — but I have an 80gb iPod Classic that syncs EVERYTHING… depending on which one I plug-in, the sync settings change. I have my iPhone set to manual sync, whereas my iPod just syncs automatically when I plug it in.


The Fairplay DRM doesn’t scare me. I still have (according to Mac OS X’s find command) 1048 m4p audio tracks Apple never offered to upgrade to iTunes+.

The major disappointment I expect next weekend will be from Amazon.

Their iPhone app doesn’t work with periodicals and so far no comment on whether their iPad version will either. But whether it does or not I know already I won’t be able to move my current periodical collection over.

There are also titles in the Amazon library that limit the number of “lifetime downloads” sort of like medical insurance lifetime caps (now to be phased out by the feds for the insurance.)

They also have titles with limits on simultaneous devices. With three kindle devices and a couple iPhones on my account I may need to juggle some of the titles to get them onto my new iPad (and then juggle again when I get the iPad+3G).

Todd Clarke

I have 2 iphones, 2 iPod touches, 3 classic iPods, and 2 Nano’s (yes we use them all – in different ways – the car, the cabin, jogging, skiing, kids, etc.)

I’ve been able to sync all of my collection to all of the Ipods + 5 different compuers with no issues.

I don’t expect my iPad to be any different.

James Kendrick

This is good news. Now the next question I have for my particular case — my iPhone is a 16 GB model and my iTunes library is 20 GB. I have thus been syncing only a portion of my library to the phone.

I’m getting a 32 GB iPad so it will handle all of my music. Will I be able to do that while only syncing a portion of the library with the iPhone?

Gavin Miller

Yes, you will just tick each song you want to sync for whatever device you’re syncing.


Andrew has got it right. I have 4 iPods and 2 iPhones across our family linked to one iTunes account. Works without a hitch. Adding an iPod won’t be an issue.


Would this not be just like having 2 or 3 iPods? I have 2 iPods, and an iPhone (no sim) and the music works on all of them.

I don’t see where the iPad would be any different.


You don’t have to worry. There is no limit on how many devices you can sync with iTunes. You could have an iPhone, a couple of iPods, and an iPad and iTunes won’t break a sweat. You’ll just have to sync your iPad with a computer that is authorized to play your DRM music (there is a 5-computer limit).

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