Linux and Apple's iPhones, iPods, and iPads usually get along about as well as cats and dogs. Oh sure, you can root a jailbroken iPhone to boot Linux, but that's just a stunt. And, if you don't mind living dangerously, you can use the popular Linux music application Banshee to manage your music collection on iPhones or iPods. Generally speaking, though, when you try to bring Linux and Apple devices together, the fur flies. Until now. Today, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux introduced an iPhone streaming music app that lets you stream music from the Ubuntu One cloud to iPhones and iPod.
According to Canonical, "The new Ubuntu One Music Streaming app for iPhone comes packed full of great functionality and an elegant new UI, so you can wirelessly sync your entire music collection saved to your Ubuntu One personal cloud. Along with supporting MP3?s and non-DRM iTunes song formats we've made managing your music on the fly easy, so you can browse and search by artist, album, or song title. You can also build and listen to playlists and control your listening with skip, shuffle and repeat functions."
I've tried it on a friend's iPhone--I use a Droid 2 with Android 2.2 myself--and it worked just fine. As advertised, even though the main music library is on the Ubuntu One cloud I was able to listen to music off-line and the music streaming didn't meet a beat-on a Verizon 3G connection-after I had talked to a friend during a test call.
The application itself is free. To use music streaming you need to subscribe to the Ubuntu One cloud music streaming service. That costs $3.99 per month and also gives you 20GBs of cloud storage for your media. Not sure if it's for you? You can try the music streaming service for a month for free. If you just want to use the Ubuntu One cloud for ordinary file storage, the first 5GB of storage is still free.
What would really be neat would be if Apple would open up its hardware application programming interfaces (API)s so that developers could write applications to natively manage iPads, iPhones and iPods from Linux and other operating systems. But, since that's never going to happen, this is probably as close as we're ever going to get to a native Linux application to mange our music on our Apple devices. Perfect? No. Better than nothing? Oh yes.