mSpot announced Monday the release of mSpot Music, an iPhone and iPod touch app that allows you to store your music collection in the cloud, and stream it directly to your device. The company already offered the ability to stream your music from a desktop browser or Android device, and today’s app release brings the service to Apple’s iOS platform.
mSpot is a free service, and today’s app release is a free download from the App Store. It’s officially an iPhone and iPod touch app, but it will work on the iPad (iPad users can also use a browser). The company told The Mac Observer that it is working on an iPad-specific version of the app, as well.
It will play any unprotected MP3, AAC, MP4, AAC+, WMA, and WAV file. Songs purchased through iTunes without copy protection will play (which we tested), but older iTunes downloads protected by Apple’s FairPlay copy protection scheme are not supported, nor are other copy protected files.
The company offers 2GB of online storage for free, and 40GB of additional space can be purchased for US$3.99 per month. The service works starting with the user creating a “locker” online at mSpot.com. Music stored in that locker can then be accessed from a browser from any Mac or PC (or an iPad browser), or through the company’s Android and iOS apps. The service won’t
This requires access to the Internet through WiFi or a cellular connection, but the company uses caching to ensure continuous playback even if one’s connection is less than perfect. There is also an Airplane Mode that allows you to play songs that have been cached without a connection at all, and on the other side, you can opt for a streaming-only mode if storage on your device is at a premium.
If all this sounds like the sort of streaming service Apple was supposed to be developing from buying Lala earlier this year, it is. Sort of — Lala matched your library with files on its servers, whereas mSpot uses files you upload yourself.
mSpot believes that this difference is key, and is the reason the company’s isn’t worrying about competition from Apple. As of this moment, the labels aren’t demanding that mSpot license the music that’s being streamed, because it all comes from music that mSpot’s customers own (at least in theory), and uploaded themselves to a spot that no one else can access.
A company spokesperson told TMO that the way Lala worked (matching your library to files stored in the cloud) does require licensing, and that this is why Apple hasn’t already launched a streaming storage feature based on its Lala acquisition. Seeing as how Apple’s App Store terms forbid apps that duplicate functionality of Apple’s own iOS software, perhaps mSpot’s confidence is well placed.
For mSpot, the emphasis is on the fact that users are storing their own files in the cloud, and mSpot is offering the value-added service of then streaming those files to you.
In a related note, writing for Xconomy, Wade Roush reported that what’s left of the Lala team inside Apple “has been dispersed to other projects.” If true (he doesn’t name is sources or detail what or why this happened), it would suggest that little or nothing will become of the Lala purchase.
[Update: This article was updated with information about copy protected files and iPad-related information. - Editor]