In what would have been an otherwise mundane update, Apple has released its MobileMe iDisk App for iOS 4, including support for iPad. The update may hint at possibilities of a cloud-based iTunes in the works.
In the update notes, Apple lists the ability to "play audio from your iDisk while using another app." This is an interesting feature addition for many reasons, but mostly because it could be the first step to establishing a cloud-based streaming media solution for iPhone and iPad users.
If Apple is using iDisk as a test for future plans to launch an "itunes.com" streaming service, bridging the gap between iOS devices and iTunes would not be far off. Simply adding an iTunes-esque interface to the iDisk App or merging MobileMe and iTunes altogether (perhaps MobileMe+ or iTunes Mobile?) and including a streaming service for purchases made in the iTunes Music Store would ensure Apple's continued success in the music distribution industry.
After testing the music streaming feature in the iDisk App, I found that it works perfectly as described. I was able to play a song from my iDisk and navigate around my iPhone 4, taking notes, surfing the Web, even playing games. With 20Gb of space available on iDisk (upgradable to 60Gb), many users could store their entire iTunes Library online (or at least what they actually listen to) and be able to access it anywhere they have Wi-Fi or a 3G data connection.
Other notable updates to the MobileMe iDisk App include support for multitasking in iOS 4 (iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS only), the ability to open iDisk documents in applications that support document viewing like iBooks, and various other stability improvements.
Despite more than its fair share of criticism, MobileMe is quickly becoming an important part of Apple's mobile strategy. Rumors of the service becoming free or getting a heavy discount coupled with vast improvements to Mail and today's announcement of a new Calendar beta program suggest that Apple understands the importance of a mobile services entity.
Should Apple make MobileMe free? Should it enable an "iTunes Mobile" service? Let us know in the comments!
Special thanks to Portland comedian and Apple guru, Nate Smith for pointing this out.