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New code added to iTunes database file prevents iPods from being used with any program other than iTunes.

Less than two weeks ago Apple revamped its entire iPod lineup along with introducing a new iPod model, the iPod touch. The product line update consisted of new features and designs for Apple’s iPod brand. The update, though, shouldn’t be taken entirely at face value; Apple also managed to sneak in some code that locks the new iPods to only work with iTunes.

Apple has locked out other digital content management software by adding “SHA1 hashes” to the beginning of the iTunesDB file, the database file which keeps track of digital content stored on the iPods. The enhanced code locks the iTunes database to one specific iPod and also prevents any modifications to it. If an attempt is made to either change the database file to a different iPod or to modify the file, the iPod reports “0 songs” are stored on the device. What this means is that essentially only iTunes can add or delete content from the iPod.  

The most plausible reason for locking then new iPods to iTunes is that Apple is becoming conscious of the growing threat that other music services are offering. Since many music labels are dumping DRM, it is now easier than ever for music services like Rhapsody to load non-DRM music directly to iPods through its own player; meaning iTunes is taken out of the picture as the digital content handler for iPods.

Locking iPods to iTunes effectively inhibits other media players from handling content for iPods. This move also prevents other music services from truly competing with the iTunes store and maintains Apple’s dominance.  

Apple has been very aggressive in the past to ensure that nothing changes the relationship between iPods and iTunes. Three years ago RealNetworks attempted to create an alliance between Apple and RealNetwork that would allow Real to license Apple’s Fairplay DRM technology so that it could sell files compatible with iPods.

Real’s ambitions turned out to be a failure when its talks with Apple failed, and so the company decided to simply reverse engineer Apple's FairPlay to create Harmony technology, which allowed music sold via RealNetworks to work on Apple’s iPods along with a plethora of other portable devices.

Apple nearly immediately issued a scathing response, and stated that Real’s move violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Apple also issued a firmware update to its iPods which blocked iPod access to Harmony files. At the time Apple said it was “stunned” by RealNetwork’s moves and accused it of using "tactics and ethics of a hacker."

Do you have an iPod but run Linux?  Tough luck says Apple.  Windows users who prefer to use other management tools, such as Winamp, will also need to use iTunes exclusively for now as well.


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RE: ah well...
By abhaxus on 9/16/2007 8:43:17 PM , Rating: 1
Have fun finding a car head unit with integrated (or even available as a separate add on) zen controls... or controls for anything besides the ipod. this reason, above perhaps any other, is why the ipod is the choice of so many people. it has attained critical mass and is so popular that now nothing supports anything else. of course, new model kenwood, jvc, and pioneer head units with USB ports can control flash drives or even portable hard drives. but this is a long way from the fluidity of controls for an ipod on most of the head units with such controls. my panasonic is excellent.

i'm sure there are just as high a percentage of people out there that have had problems with a zen or samsung player dying prematurely.

note: i'm not an apple fanboy by any means... I just laugh when people automatically badmouth apple because they got a broken ipod. of the millions that have been sold, i hear of so few that are broken. I manage a retail store for a local CE chain, and 90% of the ones that people bring back "broken" are actually customer errors. They are the only product that we don't allow returns until we test them out in front of the customer to make sure they really aren't working.


RE: ah well...
By hughlle on 9/16/2007 9:09:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Have fun finding a car head unit with integrated (or even available as a separate add on) zen controls... or controls for anything besides the ipod. this reason, above perhaps any other, is why the ipod is the choice of so many people.


near every steroe on the market supports a 3.5mm jack, people don't buy ipods for their incar compatability, as they have nothing for or against the competition. people byu them because they think they look cool, end of


RE: ah well...
By abhaxus on 9/17/2007 3:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
The 3.5mm doesn't bypass the iPod's (or any mp3 player) crappy internal DAC. The difference in sound quality between hooking my nano up to my panasonic through aux and through the ipod connector is incredible.

And a 3.5 mm jack requires that you have the mp3 player where you can reach it, and thus can be seen from outside the car. I keep my nano in the glovebox so I don't have to worry about someone seeing it and breaking into my car.

3.5mm != ipod controls

Although I must say I'm somewhat excited to see what the new samsung bluetooth enabled players can do with bluetooth head units.


RE: ah well...
By FS on 9/16/2007 9:56:32 PM , Rating: 2
I think the add ons, you are mentioning, were the result of ipods' popularity and not the reason . If zen(or sansa or any other) mp3 player was the number one selling device, it would've had the same(or probably a little more or little less) amount of add ons.


RE: ah well...
By stevenplatt on 9/17/2007 8:14:12 AM , Rating: 3
For shame Apple...FOR SHAME!!! Actually I just baught the new 80GB iPod Classic. It works fine, but like with EVERY Apple product, it is oversimplified. I dont want to have to go 4 menus back just to turn on shuffle feature. Apple products are easy to use only for the users that have not used anything else or are beginners. I wanted to purchase a iMac, but I didnt because they cant be upgraded or changed from what Apple decides users need. I want media card readers. I want HD DVD/Blu-Ray playback. I want a TV tuner! Before i bought the iPod i had a samsung flash player which died after 1 week. But just as with iPods, this was isolated incident. I really dont like that Apple is trying yet again to make descicions for you. But also the new ipods do allow Mass Storage use. But not drag and drop. I am very frustrated with apple.


"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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