Is Apple’s iOS Limping Behind Android in the Cloud Music Dogfight?

May 19, 2011
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    Google recently debuted Music Beta and has an official Android player app for using the service on Android devices. It does not run on iOS devices.

    Amazon launched its Cloud Drive music service in mid-April this year, and currently has two music-playing and music-shopping Android apps to go with it: Amazon Cloud Player for Android and Amazon MP3 App for Android. Neither Amazon’s MP3 Store nor Cloud Player supports the iPad and the iPhone.

    These make one wonder where on earth–or up above the clouds–is that other key player in digital music? Where’s Apple and its iOS?

    It seems that the Google and Amazon cloud-music playing apps for Android are keeping out iOS and its spawn (e.g., iPads and iPhones). One very strong reason for that is Flash support. Google Music Beta, for instance, uses Flash to play music, but for quite some time, Apple and iOS seem to have developed allergies to Flash. For some time, iOS-strapped users were never able to use Amazon Cloud Player on an iPod Touch, iPad, or iPhone, although some users report variable degrees of success in using Safari.

    Rumor mills have been grinding fast lately about the possibility that Apple may soon catch up with Google and Amazon on cloud music storage service, aptly named iCloud.

    While the rumor remains a rumor and while iPhone/iPad users hang on strongly to hopes of Apple’s own cloud music storage service, whom can a user of an iOS-run device turn to for the meantime? Tuaw.com, “The Unofficial Apple Weblog,” suggests the iOS app called BoxyTunes and the file storage service of Dropbox.

    BoxyTunes looks for MP3, MP4, WAV, AIFF, AAC, M4A, and CAF music files inside your Dropbox folders and streams them to your iOS device if you tell it to. It pretty much does most of what Amazon’s and Google’s cloud music players can do, except the ability to shop for and buy music. Dropbox is just for file storage. And, if ever Music Beta does find the heart to open its doors to iOS, Charlie Sorrel of Wired.com believes BoxyTunes just may have an edge over Music Beta: Dropbox helps you prevent potential duplicates by creating MD5 hashes of files you upload and comparing those with the MD5 hashes of files already on the server. Syncing your local music files with your cloud folders on Dropbox is just as easy: just point Dropbox to the local folder where you keep your music, and whenever you add or remove anything in there, the changes are automatically mirrored in the cloud folder.

    The price for BoxyTunes’ latest version, 1.4, has been slashed down from 2 US dollars to 99 cents. It is available on iTunes App Store. A free version and a paid version exists for the iPhone, while only a paid version exists for the iPad. Your device must run at least iOS 4.0 so that you can use BoxyTunes. You will also need a Dropbox account. If you don’t have one, you can open a free, 2-gigabyte account via BoxyTunes itself or via dropbox.com.

    Having seen BoxyTunes’ potential, do you think the app’s 50% price cut has something to do with keeping Music Beta’s and Cloud Drive’s music-playing Android apps at bay in the cloud-music-playing scene? Why or why not?

    Comments

    • http://dangerismymiddlename.com Paul Danger Kile

      Apple started out by denying developers from the app store for any product that Apple might create. They’ve proven themselves to be hostile to developers throughout their history. Why would anyone waste money developing an application for iOS when they might have to throw all of it away at the whim of Steve Jobs?

      • Darcy Alexander

        Hi Paul,

        I think this is a poignant comment, and it’s obvious you have experience developing apps.

        Whenever proponents of Apple come to Android Authority, they always refer to how profitable Apple is as a company, and so forth. Truth is, yes, Apple does make a ton of money. But at what cost? Arguably the most innovative components of iOS have been developed by private developers, and released through Cydia.

        Android is not perfect, by any stretch. The fact that Google maintains its openness, and allows developers to come up with novel ideas and make apps and services for it underscores the key reason why Android will dominate Apple in the years to come. That being said, some people are happy to have the walled garden locked down approach. I relate it to paying for cable, and blocking the channels that have controversial content. In the end, we know who will be the victor.

        Thanks for dropping by.

      • Elmer

        Calling Apple’s strategy “hostile to developers” may be just one of the various ways to look at it. It may be true that Apple keeps out developers for certain apps that Steve foresees to be “potential Apple properties,” which, if developed by autonomous developers, might make Steve a few thousand (or maybe million) dollars less richer than if Apple itself developed the apps. I stay on the milder side when looking at that strategy. It’s an ironclad, fenced-in strategy that seems to work for Apple and for brand protection.

        Android app development employs a different tactic, though. And, the tactic has been proven to work, too. Google’s open strategy is the major driving force of novelty, innovation, and speed in app development for Android. It is also the major driving force of the deluge of apps that have been developed for Android. It is also the major reason that Steve is squirming in his seat.

        The fact that iOS and Android’s strategies both work (without discounting the fact that both also have their shortcomings) simply means that different competing and often mutually exclusive strategies can co-exist to serve end users. As to which strategy runs out of gas first—I’ll just wait and see. I have the feeling it’s not going to be Android. But, my gut feeling could be wrong.

    • Jonathan

      Amazon’s two cloud music players aren’t “keeping iOS and its spawn out” from anything. Why would Amazon create a cloud music player for iOS when every Apple device has access to iTunes?! They’re competitors! You make it seem as if they’re trying to keep out iOS users. Everyone and their mother knows that Apple is in the works of developing a cloud music service, so it would clearly be a waste of time and money for Amazon to create an iOS version of its cloud music player knowing that 1) apple is developing one soon to be released 3) iTunes is completely integrated into iOS and Apple devices and 3) most iOS users buy their music from iTunes and therefore would have little to no music on the Amazon servers from which they can even stream!

       

      Apple isn’t denying the developers from creating anything with regard to a cloud music service player! Private, independent developers can’t create a cloud-music player for Apple, and neither would an independent developer be able to do so for Amazon. That’s why Amazon created the app. And henceforth, that is why Apple needs to create the service.

       

      You should refrain from making severely uneducated comments. Apple has not “shown itself to be hostile to developers throughout their history” in any manner! Apple gave away 2 billion to its developers last year and has recently come to their aid in lawsuits made against their developers by Lodsys for in app purchasing api use. Hostile to the lifeline of its app store success? I don’t think so.

       

      Apple also didn’t “start out by denying developers from the app store for any product that Apple might create.” Apple’s SDK kit includes information of current corporate app ideas, so it isn’t, as you make it seem, limiting its developers’ intellectual and artistic creation as it pertains to an app/service of this magnitude and significance. Also, if Apple has an idea to create a service/app, I’m sure they would do it much better than an independent developer as they have the resources to do so. Google and Amazon do the same thing (that’s why the music players were created by Amazon); it’s about quality and competition. The Android market many now how more apps than Apple’s app store, but it’s a well known fact that the app store’s apps are of much higher quality (integration, user-friendliness, innovation, security…)

       

      And as aforementioned, developers don’t have the ability to develop cloud music apps because they don’t have access to our iTunes accounts or to Apple’s huge music database. Neither can they seek agreements with giant record labels to do so! Only the company itself can do that sort of thing.

       

      So the claim that this cloud service issue is an example of Apple’s “walled garden lock down approach” is not at all warranted. 

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