iTunes Personal Cloud Service

There’s been some speculation lately about a mini-iPhone which would stream music from your home computer instead of having significant onboard storage. Whether that’s true or not, the idea of streaming music from your computer at home isn’t so far fetched.

There are a few enabling technologies already in place that make this possible.

MobileMe already has access to computers inside your house, through the Back to My Mac service. This is built on top of a number of other technologies including wide-area Bonjour and IPSec.

But what about the problem of accessing files on your computer while you’re out and your computer is asleep? Apple has addressed this as well, with something called Sleep Proxy.

The Bonjour Sleep Proxy is a brilliant invention. In a nutshell, a computer on your network that wants to go to sleep can ask if there’s someone else on the network that’s planning to stay awake, and if so, hand off information about what services the computer has available over to that device. The computer then goes to sleep. If another computer on your network is looking for a service, the Sleep Proxy will advertise the services on your computer as if it was on. If one of those services is needed, the Sleep Proxy will send a magic Wake On Lan network packet that will wake up the computer so it can provide the service.

I believe Windows 7 originally had a sleep mode that was designed for background network server type operation, where a good chunk of the system would be in a low power state and some of it off, but enough would be alive to stream media from the computer. I can’t find any reference to it right now, but a mode like would facilitate streaming without firing up 365 watts worth of computer to do it.

Put all these pieces together and you’ve got everything you need to stream music from a computer at home right to your phone in a secure, efficient manner.