(This is one of a series of articles looking at elements of iTunes that I think need fixing. I’ll choose one element for each article, and offer a solution. See all articles in this series. If you have any particular gripes about what needs to be fixed in iTunes, drop me a line.)
Home Sharing is a very useful feature in iTunes which allows you to share your media library to other computers and devices on your network. You use Home Sharing to access content on an Apple TV, but you can also use it, for example, to play music from a central iTunes library on another computer.
Home Sharing is notoriously unreliable from computer to computer, and from a computer’s iTunes library to an Apple TV. For some people, it works all the time, on certain devices; others have to constantly restart their devices, such as their Apple TVs, to be able to access their content.
You can also – theoretically – use Home Sharing to load an iTunes library on an iOS device. You can do this in the Music app, or in the Videos app. However, this feature is broken. While it works with small libraries, once you’ve got a fair amount of media in your iTunes library, it fails. I’ve not been able to find anyone who’s gotten it to work with a large library.
If you have a large library, and try to load it on an iOS device, it simply never completes. I’ve tried many times to do this on my iPad, to watch a video, and it always fails. When I have tried to load my Music library on my iPhone, to listen to something that’s not on the iPhone, that never completes either, as you can see below. (Dark Star is my iMac, with a music library of around 70,000 tracks.)
Home Sharing is yet another great feature that is broken. Apple should fix this, especially if they’re planning on expanding the capabilities of the Apple TV.