Print 81 comment(s) - last by DragonMaster0.. on Sep 23 at 10:19 AM

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 redbone75 on 9/16/2007 10:44:33 PM , Rating: 5
As much as I dislike the iPod it is simple to use and it just works which is why people don't want to let it go.

What could be simpler than just dragging and dropping files from your computer to your player? By no means do I mean to or intend to offend, but I've heard that little shtick used in Apple's defense before and frankly I'm sick and tired of it. I buy Product A, take Product A home, plug Product A into my computer with standard mini USB cable, and copy songs to Product A without having to first download any cumbersome programs. My Zen Vision: M sounds just like Product A. Oh, and it works for many video files as well, considering my ZVM supports so many more codecs out the box. This is just another way of Apple sticking it to their own customers. If I buy music from wherever, I want to be able to listen to it on MY DIGITAL MUSIC PLAYER that I bought for the purpose of LISTENING TO MUSIC ON THE GO.

RE: ah well...
By pheffern on 9/17/2007 9:15:37 AM , Rating: 4
I used to think this too, and had avoided buying an iPod for years because of it - that and the price. After a couple years with a drag and drop Creative player I finally caved and bought a thirty gig iPod this spring. You know what's simpler than drag and drop? Plugging the thing in and having iTunes automatically add any new music you have to it. I have yet to hit 30 GB.

Frankly I have no problem with using iTunes as my main music program - I buy the occasional CD or song from the iTunes store, but mostly I buy CDs and rip them. It's simple and convenient.

Judging by the ratings patterns in this thread, I'm sure I'll bottom out just for saying that I'm happy with my iPod, but that doesn't make it any less true.

RE: ah well...
By omnicronx on 9/17/2007 10:52:10 AM , Rating: 2
You know what's simpler than drag and drop? Plugging the thing in and having iTunes automatically add any new music you have to it. I have yet to hit 30 GB.
In 1998, yes.. in this day and age, most people store most of their music on their pc, even the CD's they own. I for one have almost 200G of music, and although i am tech savy, most of my friends that are not, have 20-60 gigs of music on their computers, plus the videos that could be used on the ipod too.

I am not saying 30 gigs is not enough, but when you have 6 times that, adding all new music in automatically means nothing to me, and thats if you only add music and no video. I have always found drag and drop the easiest way, especially if you have your music organized. The only cool thing i find about itunes is the picking of random music, but i am sure many other programs offer that feature also.

RE: ah well...
By kmmatney on 9/20/2007 2:46:29 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you. Although I use my Ipod for lots of backups, by dragging and dropping files from windows explorer, I would hate to transfer music that way. Much easier to transfer my music and playlists through Itunes.

I now use Itunes as my main music program, and it does the job quite nicely. The only problem I have with Itunes, is having to install Quicktime - however its easy to get around by uncompressing the Itunes setup file and only installing Itunes and not quicktime. Then you can install QtLite to replace quicktime.

RE: ah well...
By audiomaniaca on 9/20/2007 11:38:14 PM , Rating: 2
I bought a ipod "video" for my wife one year ago. Back then, I thought, wow, it will be cool to watch videos on it. Ok...

Just a while after, we both realized how COMPLEX was to understand how itunes works. Sometimes, you don't even know where the files are in your computer.

Synching it with the device is being sure that all files has been transfered is also a mistery.

One year after, her ipod "video" has never played any video so far. That's because putting mp3 in it is SO complex and hard that I don't even dare to try to make a video in the required apple format and find out how to transfer it using crytunes. To hell with it.

RE: ah well...
By DragonMaster0 on 9/23/2007 10:17:16 AM , Rating: 2
What about using folder syncing? Does the same thing without that resource hog called iTunes.

A computer with QuickTIme quick launch enabled and iTunes installed runs way slower. No wonder Jobs claims that Windows is hell, especially if he installs his slow ported software on it before doing anything else.

RE: ah well...
By Omega215D on 9/17/2007 2:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not defending Apple for those idiots out there. When people asked to use my mp3 players they keep telling me it's too complicated or requires too many buttons to be pushed and they preferred the iPod's scroll wheel and "clean" UI.

Before I got my Clix2 and Cowon D2 I was starting to think maybe my iRiver H320 was harder to use than the iPod.

RE: ah well...
By ElFenix on 9/20/2007 1:17:39 PM , Rating: 1
If I buy music from wherever, I want to be able to listen to it on MY DIGITAL MUSIC PLAYER that I bought for the purpose of LISTENING TO MUSIC ON THE GO.

then buy a CD player and CDs.

and as for drag and drop, that is far too complicated for many people. a lot of people have no idea about file management, directories, etc. heck, one secretary here, when she wants to copy a file from one place to another, does so through the "Open" dialog in word perfect.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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