Apple’s Questionable Standards Support Strikes Again

When Apple announced the availability of DRM-free music at the iTunes Music Store last May, my response at the time was a resounding “meh”. I’ve been paying for restricted music on iTMS for more than two years, and if I ever needed to move my music beyond my computer or iPod I’d just burn a CD.

But now, thanks to my spiffy new Nokia, I can use an entire song as my ringtone so it won’t sound like every other Nokia out there. You all know what I’m talking about.

There’s just one problem: The supposedly unrestricted iTunes Plus tracks won’t play on my phone.

It’s actually not a copy-protection issue but instead yet another example of Apple not adhering to standard file formats. And it apparently comes down to a mere five lines of code within the actual file!

And here they are:

Atom stsd @ 450 of size: 32871, ends @ 33321
Atom mp4a @ 466 of size: 32855, ends @ 33321
Atom esds @ 502 of size: 51, ends @ 553
Atom pinf @ 553 of size: 32768, ends @ 33321 ~
Atom stts @ 33321 of size: 24, ends @ 33345

And in case you were wondering, “~” represents an unknown value. Yeah, I picked up immediately on that too…

So at this point my options would be to either:

  1. Hack into the file somehow and rewrite the offending lines of code.
  2. Burn a CD of the single track then rip it back to my computer as an MP3.
  3. Give up.

Thankfully Joshua King has a solution that trumps all these. He’s written a handy little Java app that copies the track with the proper code in place. Because it’s Java the same version will run on both Mac and PC, and there’s also a version you can use directly on your handset. Oh, and did I mention that it’s absolutely free?

Now playing iTunes Plus tracks on your Nokia couldn’t be easier — unless, of course, Apple had gotten the file format right in the first place…


About Andrew

Mobile phones, Linux and copyright reform. Those go together, right?
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