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I plan on purchasing 3 iPod Touches and I have an iPhone 4s and an iPad 1. Can these devices all participate in Home Sharing from iTunes (on Windows) in an ad-hoc wifi network?

I have a test here with my iPhone 4s connected to an ad-hoc wifi network from my Windows machine (only several feet away from computer, certainly within the ad-hoc 30 ft. radius recommendation). iTunes appears to recognize the iPhone on the network as it does sync the phone, but sharing is enables on the very same itunes account. Problems:

  1. The "Shared" option appears at most 25% of any given time,
  2. When it does work, I am only able to see playlists (is this expected?),
  3. In any given playlist for music (all songs purchased via itunes) only about 10% of them play, the remainder are skipped by iphone.
  4. Those items that will list to be played (e.g. some video podcasts) will return with a dialog box of "Cannot Open".

Shall I assume these sporadic (though apparently consistent) problems are the result of an ad-hoc wifi network vs. a "real" wifi router network?

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Your intermittent connections is likely a result of a firewall blocking the multicast packets or that your ad-hoc network isn't truly one network. Have you tried to isolate the not playing some songs from the not connecting issue? They are really different things and highly unlikely to be the same root cause. (unless your devices are simply not all authorized to play all of the content in the first place) –  bmike Nov 21 '11 at 18:00
    
Testing just on 1 device now, but they're all under my itunes account, should be authorized. Would not a firewall block ALL packets though? Are you saying some music and some videos will use varying ports? Why would some content use multicast and others not? –  Xepoch Nov 21 '11 at 18:09
    
Yes - some ports are needed for AirPlay and such. See support.apple.com/kb/TS1629 and also, it needs to have a multicast / broadcast domain for the broadcast packets to register and the devices to find each other. Run sudo tcpdump -i en1 and look to see your devices talking when you connect you iOS device to the mac. –  bmike Nov 21 '11 at 18:15
    
The iTunes machine is Windows :( –  Xepoch Nov 21 '11 at 18:16
    
Get a mac! (ok - using superuser.com to figure out the Bonjour debugging might be cheaper) –  bmike Nov 21 '11 at 18:18
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1 Answer

Yes - you need to be connected to the internet when you first enable Home Sharing, but once each device has a SSL cert or whatever is stored internally, the devices will find each other and share as long as the local network is allowing the mDNS / Bonjour traffic so the devices can discover each other and match keys stored internally to identify which account is enabled for sharing.

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The reason I'm making this ad-hoc network is be used in cross-country family trips where we will not have internet access. Both devices at this time have internet access and yet cannot appear to communicate in an expected manner. Additional thoughts? –  Xepoch Nov 21 '11 at 17:53
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I've taken my devices to a remote cabin and things work well (except sometimes Apple TV 2 won't play nicely) on networks that never ever connect to the internet. Look to make sure there are no firewalls on your ad-hoc host. –  bmike Nov 21 '11 at 18:02
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