Apple May Be Getting Social With 'Media Stream'

Is Apple gunning for Facebook's social media crown with a new media-streaming feature for iOS devices? That's the latest rumor after several blogs noticed a folder called "Media Stream" buried deep in the system files for iOS 4.3 beta 2 released Wednesday. The only feature currently in the Media Stream folder is something called Photo Stream that lets you share photos with your friends, according to 9-to-5 Mac.

The Photos Hub on Windows Phone 7. (Click to zoom)
Photo Stream is reportedly a real-time feed of photos from people you are connected to, perhaps similar to the Photos Hub on Windows Phone 7 devices. The basic idea being that you take photos with your iOS device, upload them to a MobileMe gallery where the photos are pushed out to your friends authorized to see the stream. Apple has purportedly built privacy features into the new feature so that you can choose who can view your stream.

To keep your stream fresh it may only show you photos from the last 30 days, according to AppleInsider. The blog found a text reference to the new service in the latest beta of iOS 4.3 that says, "Photo Stream uploads and stores the last thirty days of your photos on MobileMe and downloads them to all of your devices." It's not clear from this text if Photo Stream allows you to share your stream with friends, but there are reportedly other references to sharing in iOS 4.3 beta 2.

It's not clear why the folder containing Photo Stream is called Media Stream, but some assume this feature could expand to include video in the future. There are also hints that third-party developers will be able to use the media-sharing feature.

Photo streaming is the second reference to rumored social networking features in iOS 4.3. This month, Mac Rumors found a reference to a feature called Find My Friends in iOS 4.3 beta 1. There wasn't enough detail in the system files to know what kind of feature Find My Friends is, but the name suggests a service similar to Google Latitude that lets you track your friends on a map in real time.

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