Media

No thanks to Apple, iPhones and iPads can finally stream DRM videos from your iTunes library

Above: The Younity app for iPhone

Image Credit: Entangled Media
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Updated Wednesday, July 2, at 5:37 AM PT to highlight the difference between Younity’s iTunes media streaming and Apple’s “Home Sharing” feature

iTunes shows and movies are protected by digital rights management (DRM) software, which limits how people can share and view them. But thanks to a file-sharing startup, iTunes videos are getting Netflix-style streaming capabilities — and it’s 100 percent legal, the company claims.

Entangled Media today updated its Younity iOS app, enabling your iPhone and iPad to stream videos stored on your computer’s iTunes library, no downloading or syncing required.

“You and I both know that people almost never sync their devices and downloading HD content like a movie can take an eternity,” Erik Caso, Entangled Media’s chief executive, told VentureBeat. “And both rely on there being storage on your device, which is a rare commodity.”

The Younity app already enabled access to your files that doesn’t have DRM protection on your desktop — including your music and video libraries — on your iPhone or iPad. It even temporarily shares those files through its ephemeral file-sharing feature. But this is the first time the app has dealt with DRM.

To avoid legal troubles, Younity won’t share content purchased through iTunes, as you can with other content. Also, the app will send you over to Safari to stream your videos.

“We’re obviously not going to strip off the DRM, because that would be illegal,” said Caso. “We effectively had to reverse-engineer using your Apple ID and your DRM key and insert them into your stream, which we could do in the Safari browser but not our own media player.”

iTunes videos will stream in their original, full resolution, and you can view them while you are anywhere in the world. That might be slower than a transcoded stream, noted Caso, but if the company optimized the video playback for streaming, that would violate the content’s DRM.

Caso says he isn’t aware of any other services that offer this iTunes streaming functionality. There’s Apple’s “Home Sharing” feature, but that only works over your home Wi-Fi network.

“I know a few other services have tried it, but I’ve never seen it working.”

Entangled Media’s long-term goal is to offer access to all of your data — files stored locally and files stored in the cloud — across all of your devices. Its software is currently available on Windows, Mac, and iOS. Learn more about the company in our earlier report.

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9 comments
Robert Link
Robert Link

 My initial glance says this company is doing something that's not entirely legal. They aren't streaming content purchased through iTunes, which is good but it also means they aren't (can't?) streaming the content you bought through iTunes that's on your Mac. What they've done is reverse-engineered Apple security to grab your AppleID and DRM key, which would be required to stream anything then opening an outgoing port in Safari so they can send the stream to your mobile device. I haven't tried it to see if the connection is encrypted (https:) but either way they are treating your Mac behind your home LAN as a server, pushing the content to your mobile device. Some ISPs might have a problem with this and it does open a hole into your home network. All web browsing does this, which is why you need to be cautious about where you browse but now that connection is open for a long period of time. Home Sharing only works within your local network, making it safe to use (most home networks use a non-routable IP address range, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-routable_ip_address). 


I guess the big question is why someone wants to stream content from their home Mac. To watch movies and use tons of data charges? Sure, but I also see it as a way to stream pirated videos. What I do within my own home is my business but once I go outside, I need to be aware of and abide by the various laws and regulations.

Erik Caso
Erik Caso

Hi Michael, the video app will not show you any content that is not stored on your phone or available via another nearby device of yours on the same WiFi network. You can only stream iTunes video content you've purchased if you are on the same WiFi network as a device that has the content, such as your computer. If, for example, you are at an airport and have only your phone, iTunes does not stream the content and the video app will be empty - prompting you to download your content from iTunes. That said, you can start watching before it has finished downloading - but you better not move away from your network connection for a very very long time and you better have enough storage for the full movie.

Michael Blake
Michael Blake

No you don't you can stream from iTunes. Using the video app or music from the music app that you bought.

Erik Caso
Erik Caso

You actually have to download them on iTunes.

Conrad Malota
Conrad Malota

Am I missing something?  You can already stream content to your iOS devices from iTunes using the native Apple iOS "Videos" app and enabling Home Sharing on your iTunes library.

Michael Blake
Michael Blake

But you can already stream movies tv and music that you bought on iTunes over the internet. So why do I need an app for this?

George Perez
George Perez

Got it. It wasn't specified in the article, but that makes sense. That definitely makes a difference.

younity
younity

Hi George, Home Sharing works when you are home. This works when your computer is at home and you are not. You can be anywhere in the world and still stream all your iTunes content.

George Perez
George Perez

So what's the difference between this and Home Sharing? I already use my iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV to watch videos saved on my Macbook's iTunes without having to download any of the videos to my devices.