As you've undoubtedly read by now, Apple has dropped the digital rights management (DRM) from some 8 million of its songs in the iTunes store, meaning you'll be able to play them on something other than iTunes or an iPod. Like, say, your Windows Mobile phone.
This also poses a bit of a dilemma for a number of us. Do we continue to use the Amazon MP3 store? Or bite the bullet and switch to iTunes and its AAC-coded files. We're not going to wade into differences of the formats, prices and if we think one store is better than the other. You guys can hash that out in the comments. But what we will do is warn you of a couple things:
- If you're buying new music from iTunes, be sure they're in the iTunes Plus format, and thus are DRM-free. Here's how you can tell. This is important because there still are 2 million songs out there with DRM attached.
- Not all media players play the AAC codec, with which iTunes songs are encoded. That said, Windows Media Player Mobile will play them out of the box, so you won't be left out in the cold. But if you're fond of a particular media player, here's a brief list of applications that can handle the AAC format, which you'll recognize by the extension (
m4a, .m4b, .m4p, .m4v, .m4r, .3gp, .mp4, .aac). If you have another favorite app, share it in the comments.
- Windows Media Player Mobile: It's the default media player on Windows Mobile phones, and one we love to hate for its lack of ease of use. But the simple fact is that it's all you need to play iTunes files on your phone.
- Kinoma Play: Still the Cadillac of Windows Mobile media players, so far as we're concerned.
- Core Player: Another favorite among WM users.
- Pocket Tunes Deluxe: This one migrated over from the Palm world and still a must-have for many.
- Pocket Player: Recently updated to Version 4.0, it now plays AAC-encoded files.
- PocketMusic: Needs a $10 plugin, but it'll get the job done.
Really, when it comes down to it, it wasn't the AAC codec that kept Apple inside its sandbox for so long. It was the DRM. So how about it, fair readers: Will this persuade you to switch to iTunes if you don't currently use it? Or will you continue to use other services, such as Amazon's MP3 store? Let us know.