Dilemma of an Indian iTunes Store Fan


Apple quietly made available Music and Movies on India iTunes Store.  India users didn’t have any clue until the Apple Device users started receiving  mail notifications from Apple.

Music collection on the store is not bad. Only problem,  user has to dig thru or try a search on his favourites. Surprised to see recent releases on regional music also on the store. But the default categories on the Music Section doesn’t help the user , unless he is looking for main stream music from Bollywood. Anybody of a different taste may rule out the store with a “minimal collection”, if he doesn’t dig deep into the store. International releases also seems to be exhaustive.

Video section seems skinny as of now. Not much from Bollywood and international titles. Hope this will improve over a period of time.

What’s really tempting for an Apple Device owner and movie enthusiast is the price. An HD version of a Hollywood title is around Rs 490, which is somewhere around one-third the price of its Blu-ray version. Quality ,  you cannot compare as the iTunes version is a  compressed version, but watchable.  Bollywood titles also seems to be reasonably priced.

The real problem is the closed ecosystem. Music is not of an issue as Apple is releasing non-DRM versions. But Movies are really pain-full.

For a person who likes to enjoy movies on his HDTV or Home Theatre, the current restriction is a real let down. On one side the tempting price and on the other side the lack of flexibility or choice in playing back your purchased movies.

Only options available for a user to enjoy his Movies purchased from iTunes are

  • Playback on the iDevices
  • Playing on your PC or Macs

If you want to enjoy them on your Home theatre, the options left are

  • Stream the Video and Audio from iDevices to Home theatre or TV thru Apple’s Digital AV Adaptor(Approx Rs 2300 + HDMI cable )
  • Utilize the HDMI / DVI connectors on your PC or Mac and feed the signal to your TV / Home Theatre thru HDMI or DVI cable

Some of the limitations on the above options are

  • iPad 2 and iPhone 4 outputs only 720p resolution
  • If you recently adopted iPhone 5 or iPad 4th generation then, currently no option to feed the HD Video/Audio to your HDTV / Home theatre, as Apple is yet to release Lightning compatible AV Digital adaptor.  Current version of Digital AV Adaptor with Lightning to 30-pin adaptor will not work.
  • PCs / Macs should have HDCP support to watch HD versions. If your current setup doesn’t support then choose SD versions for purchase or rent.

Another last option which again is not a standalone solution is Apple TV. This device is not yet available in India. Apple should be launching this in India soon as with the availability of Music and Movies , the usability  has improved from the device’s point of view.

But these again is quite restrictive. To enjoy your movies thru Apple TV

  • You need to enable Home Sharing on iTunes running on your PC  or Mac. That means to enjoy movies your PC should be running
  • Stream thru Airplay from iDevices to Apple TV. The restriction on iPad 2 and iPhone 4 may apply in this scenario also. Not confirmed.
  • The device doesn’t allow to playback your personal media on a hard disk, unless the same is imported to iTunes Library and shared thru Home Sharing.

XBMC has Airplay support, but I was not successful in Streaming Movies. Music was fine.

The current limitations in enjoying the purchased Movies on your HDTV or Home Theatre is a real roadblock.

I think, I’ll finally end up adding an Apple TV, as the temptation on the Pricing and convenience of Purchasing / Renting weighs out over any other route available now.

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News : Music and Films on India iTunes Store


Apple has launched Music and Films on India iTunes Store


Tip : Playing Media to Your Windows 8 from another DLNA Server


This post will give an Overview of what’s involved to Play media from a DLNA server on your network to your Windows 8 Desktop / a DLNA Media Render.

This scenario will arise when you want to control a HTPC without going to the Desktop on the PC to interact with the Media Player.  You can use a DLNA DMC to interact with Windows Media Player or a DMR to playback media from your HTPC.

Refer my earlier post on DLNA in case the terminology like DLNA, DMC, DMR, DMP etc. are new to you.

 

Windows Media Player available on  Windows 8 / 7 can act as a DMP, a DMS and a DMR. The purpose of DMP and DMR are the same – a player to play the media content. On DMP, you go and select the media that is played. But on DMR, you can remotely sent media to DMR for playing. For e.g.: Using DMC, you can route the content from a DLNA server to DMR.

 

I am assuming you have your Desktop , Smartphone, TV or Blu-ray player connected to your home network and a DLNA server already running

Refer this Post to Enable DLNA Server on your Windows 8

Steps involved.

  1. Enable DMR Profile on Windows Media Player
    • Start Windows Media Player
    • On “Stream” menu,  select  “Allow remote control of my player”
    • A Dialog box will open asking you to select whether to allow or not.
    • Select “Allow Remote Control on this Network”
  2. Leave Windows Media Player Open. This is required.
  3. Now you can use the following to control playback from a smart phone or PC
    • Windows 8 / 7 PC
    • iPod/iPhone/iPad/Windows/MacOS X/Linux / PocketPC.
      • Download / Install Linn’s  Kinsky on your Device / PC
      • Refer the detailed manual  for playing around with Kinsky
      • The below steps are assuming Kinsky is installed on iOS Device. Steps are pretty same for other versions also.
        1. Fire up Kinsky
        2. Selecting your Media from the DLNA Server
          • Under “Home” area Click on “Library”
          • You will see the currently available Media Servers listed here
          • Select your Media Server and Navigate to the folder containing the media files to be played
        3. Select the target of Playback. Kinsky refers this as “Rooms”
          • Click on “Rooms” button. You will find this on the Right hand column below the playback controls
          • This will list the DMR available. Select your preferred DMR
        4. From the Library section, tap on the track / file you want to play
        5. You will see the track appearing on the Right hand column(Playlist area)
        6. Tap on the track in the Playlist area. The track will begin playing on your DMR.

I haven’t explained Kinsky in detailed as there are other solutions around and the manual is pretty exhaustive. Also the steps captured can be used to Play any media – Music, Videos and Pictures.

Note : The playback depends on the Media Formats supported by your DMR.

Post back your DMR alternatives , issues and Feedback.

See Also : All Articles on DLNA


Whether Apple Passbook is getting typecast as a Coupon Aggregator?


iOS Passbook adaptation is gaining momentum. But its getting praise or criticism for a feature that’s one of its potential. During this process, the app is getting typecast as a Coupon Aggregator only platform.

The Passbook compatible coupon generator companies are diluting the real potential of Passbook. In their opinion, it’s just a coupon aggregator. They are right from their view-point, as who cannot ignore the revenues from coupon business. That’s just one angle to Passbook potential.  In this area,  a better way of servicing users should be pushing coupons tailored on Customer Shopping habits and Preference.

Customers should have the flexibility to subscribe to his areas of interest for which he would like to have coupons pushed.

People seems to be ignoring the possibility of multi use  Pre paid cash cards and gift cards which can be re deemed at outlets. Starbucks cards are an existing version of the same. The balance on the cards are updatable from a centralized application server. So, if that possibility exists why can’t cash cards or gift cards?

Banks could really look at this possibility – where a user uses a bank app or website, generate a Pre populated gift card or cash card which can be forwarded to a friend for use. ATM-s  can be tailored to accept this  cards for cash with-drawal – a wild imagination, but definitely possible as the Passbook doesn’t need a fancy NFC, just a bar code reader.

Passbook in no way replaces the existing Payment Gateway solutions from Credit Card Companies and it should never try to. These companies have built up on this solution and it has taken monstrous man years to achieve the level of integration and security. Apple cannot put a solution and infrastructure to match that in short time.

What really excites me is , this Passbook ecosystem is so easy for an establishment to join. Doesn’t need any additional infrastructure like NFC or anything and that’s what it differentiates it self from other solutions available now.

Do you agree or Disagree?  Post your comments.

Also Visit more articles written on Passbook