I’ve officially given up on trying to guess Apple’s next move. As far as my computing needs go I’ve almost achieved what I want with a decent media management system, workhorse, family system and some other bits and pieces. However, there’s one more element that I reckon my setup needs and I’m hoping Apple fills this gap in San Francisco in a couple of week’s time.
What I really want is a home network server. Running three Macs in the home and office means that I need to configure a bunch of sharing options so that data can be used by everyone. One thing, in particular, really annoys me. None of the iLife apps allow me to have a single library that can be read and updated by multiple systems. I know I can share the libraries for viewing but each system has their own library and consolidating them so that there’s one master library is a PITA.
I’m sure that some very clever folks have probably resolved all the permissions and sharing issues that are needed to achieve this but, as a Mac user, if it’s not supported out of the box then it’s too hard. I like that my computer "just works" and that I rarely have to venture into the Terminal.An Apple Home Server (it’ll need a cool name) will allow you to have a single system that holds iTunes, iPhoto and iMovie libraries centrally. If someone on a client machine starts iPhoto (or one of the other apps) and connects their camera then the photos will be added to a central library. The application itself can handle the "who can see the photos" question. Let’s say that I add photos of a bunch of mobile phones I’m reviewing to the library, I can stipulate, when I’m importing them, that they’re only for me. That way I don’t clutter up the view for the rest of the family.
Also, the Apple home Server could support shared printers and extra storage in the same way that the Airport Extreme base station does. The Apple Home Server wouldn’t be all that different to the Airport Extreme base station except that it would run OS X (like the Apple TV) and have printer and drive sharing like the Airport Extreme. In fact, it would be something of a mash-up of the two devices. Throw in a couple of internal drive bays and you’ve got a sensational system. It’d be about the size of three Apple TVs stacked on top of each other.
Give it the ability to do networked Time Machine backups for other systems on the network and I reckon it’d be a winner.