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How to Tap Into Your PC’s iTunes Library From iOS

You use iTunes to store your music library, but your iOS device has limited space and can't house all your tunes. But you can access your entire iTunes library from your iPhone or iPad with help from a music streaming app.

I use MusicStreamer, which lets you connect to the PC or network drive on which your iTunes library is stored and stream your music to your mobile device. You can browse your entire library and select the album or song you wish to hear. MusicStreamer also acts as a full music player for your tunes. Let's see how the app can put you in touch with your iTunes library.

First, download and install MusicStreamer from the App Store. It costs $3.99, but it's worth the price. After you launch MusicStreamer the first time, the app asks to scan your Wi-Fi network. Hit the "Tap to Scan" button.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

If your iTunes library is stored on a computer, make sure that computer is turned on and connected to the internet. If your library is stored on a network drive, make sure the drive is up and available. The app should find any network PCs or network drives. Tap on the PC or drive that contains your iTunes library.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

Enter the username and password for the PC or network drive. Tap Next.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

The app should automatically find your iTunes library. If not, tap on the link to "Go up a folder" and navigate to the correct folder. Then tap Done.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

MusicStreamer will scan all the folders and subfolders for your music and other audio. Tap OK.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

You can track the progress of the scan by watching the update numbers in the upper-right corner. The app tells you that it's uploaded X number of tracks of X.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

When the scan is done, the progress shows the total number of albums and tracks that were scanned. You now have complete access to your iTunes library from the app. If your library is stored on a computer, you'll need to make sure that computer is powered up and online anytime you want to access iTunes from your mobile device. A network drive should always be up and available.

To play an album or song from MusicStreamer, simply scroll down the list of albums until you see which one you want to hear. By default, the list is sorted by album, but you can tap on the "Artist" button to sort it by artist. You can also filter the list by tapping on the "Filter" link and selecting a specific genre to see only albums in that genre.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

Tap on the album you wish to hear and the song you want to play, or tap on the "Queue" button to play the entire album. Now just listen and enjoy as your iPhone or iPad serenades you. From the controls in the upper-left corner, you can pause the music, skip to the next track, or skip to the previous track. You can also create a playlist to store your favorite tunes.

But wait, there's more. MusicStreamer offers a variety of options. Click on the button that looks like a music note. A menu pops up with options to shuffle your music, remove tracks from the queue, save the tracks to a new playlist, download the tracks to play them offline, and export the tracks to a Mac or PC via the iOS sharing feature.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

Now, tap on the button with the three horizonal lines. From the pop-up menu, you can add to the queue, play the tracks in the queue, download the current track for offline playback, rescan your library, paste or remove album art, and more.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

Finally, tap on the Gear icon at the upper-right of the screen. From this pop-up menu, you can view the source for your iTunes library, rescan your library, go offline, remove offline copies, and more.

Access Your Tunes Library via iOS

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Does Google’s Duplex violate two-party consent laws?

Google’s Duplex, which calls businesses on your behalf and imitates a real human, ums and ahs included, has sparked a bit of controversy among privacy advocates. Doesn’t Google recording a person’s voice and sending it to a data center for analysis violate two-party consent law, which requires everyone in a conversation to agree to being recorded? The answer isn’t immediately clear, and Google’s silence isn’t helping. Let’s take California’s law as the example, since that’s the state where Google is based and where it used the system. Penal Code section 632 forbids recording any “confidential communication” (defined more or less as any non-public conversation) without the consent of all parties. (The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press has a good state-by-state guide to these laws.) Google has provided very little in the way of details about how Duplex actually works, so attempting to answer this question involves a certain amount of informed speculation. To begin with I’m going to consider all phone calls as “confidential” for the purposes of the law. What constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy is far from settled, and some will have it that you there isn’t such an expectation when making an appointment with a salon. But what about a doctor’s office, or if you need to give personal details over the phone? Though some edge cases may qualify as public, it’s simpler and safer (for us and for Google) to treat all phone conversations as confidential. What we know about Google’s Duplex demo so far As a second assumption, it seems clear that, like most Google services, Duplex’s work takes place in a data center somewhere, not locally on your device. So fundamentally there is a requirement in the system that the other party’s audio will be recorded and sent in some form to that data center for processing, at which point a response is formulated and spoken. On its face it sounds bad for Google. There’s no way the system is getting consent from whomever picks up the phone. That would spoil the whole interaction — “This call is being conducted by a Google system using speech recognition and synthesis; your voice will be analyzed at Google data centers. Press 1 or say ‘I consent’ to consent.” I would have hung up after about two words. The whole idea is to mask the fact that it’s an AI system at all, so getting consent that way won’t work. But there’s wiggle room as far as the consent requirement in how the audio is recorded, transmitted and stored. After all, there are systems out there that may have to temporarily store a recording of a person’s voice without their consent — think of a VoIP call that caches audio for a fraction of a second in case of packet loss. There’s even a specific cutout in the law for hearing aids, which if you think about it do in fact do “record” private conversations. Temporary copies produced as part of a legal, beneficial service aren’t the target of this law. This is partly because the law is about preventing eavesdropping and wiretapping, not preventing any recorded representation of conversation whatsoever that isn’t explicitly authorized. Legislative intent is important. “There’s a little legal uncertainty there, in the sense of what degree of permanence is required to constitute eavesdropping,” said Mason Kortz, of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. “The big question is what is being sent to the data center and how is it being retained. If it’s retained in the condition that the original conversation is understandable, that’s a violation.” For instance, Google could conceivably keep a recording of the call, perhaps for AI training purposes, perhaps for quality assurance, perhaps for users’ own records (in case of time slot dispute at the salon, for example). They do retain other data along these lines. But it would be foolish. Google has an army of lawyers and consent would have been one of the first things they tackled in the deployment of Duplex. For the onstage demos it would be simple enough to collect proactive consent from the businesses they were going to contact. But for actual use by consumers the system needs to engineered with the law in mind. What would a functioning but legal Duplex look like? The conversation would likely have to be deconstructed and permanently discarded immediately after intake, the way audio is cached in a device like a hearing aid or a service like digital voice transmission. A closer example of this is Amazon, which might have found itself in violation of COPPA, a law protecting children’s data, whenever a kid asked an Echo to play a Raffi song or do long division. The FTC decided that as long as Amazon and companies in that position immediately turn the data into text and then delete it afterwards, no harm and, therefore, no violation. That’s not an exact analogue to Google’s system, but it is nonetheless instructive. “It may be possible with careful design to extract the features you need without keeping the original, in a way where it’s mathematically impossible to recreate the recording,” Kortz said. If that process is verifiable and there’s no possibility of eavesdropping — no chance any Google employee, law enforcement officer or hacker could get into the system and intercept or collect that data — then potentially Duplex could be deemed benign, transitory recording in the eye of the law. That assumes a lot, though. Frustratingly, Google could clear this up with a sentence or two. It’s suspicious that the company didn’t address this obvious question with even a single phrase, like Sundar Pichai adding during the presentation that “yes, we are compliant with recording consent laws.” Instead of people wondering if, they’d be wondering how. And of course we’d all still be wondering why. We’ve reached out to Google multiple times on various aspects of this story, but for a company with such talkative products, they sure clammed up fast.

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