Two iOS Problems; Content "lost" and content blocked

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iPhone Audio/Video content “lost” after iOS 4.2.1 update

After you update to iOS 4.2.1 on your iPhone (or iPod touch), check to see whether your synced audio and video content is still there. Many users (including myself) have been dismayed to find that all the content was missing. If this happens to you, stay calm. Your content is still there.

To get everything working again, reconnect your iPhone to iTunes. At this point, you should happily see that your media content remains listed on your iPhone. You won’t need to re-transfer any data. You just need to help your iPhone find the data that’s already there. To do so, click to sync the iPhone. When done, the missing content should be “restored.”

Some reports claim that, before this resyncing works, you’ll need to select to play a song from the iPhone’s media list in iTunes. I did not find this to be necessary.

(Thanks to TechCrunch, where I first spotted this tip.)

Problems with Apple TV, AirPlay, and HDCP restrictions

The tech specs Web page for Apple TV (second generation) states: “Requires HDCP when playing protected content.” HDCP (high-bandwidth digital copy protection) is an encryption technology designed to prevent unauthorized copying of protected digital video content. What all of this means is that, if you connect your Apple TV to a non-HDCP-equipped television, you won’t be able to view any protected content. Instead, you will be informed that “this content requires HDCP for playback. HDCP isn’t supported by your HDMI connection.” As virtually all current television models have HDCP support, this will mainly be an issue with older HDMI-equipped televisions.

In theory, you should never see the Apple TV’s HDCP error message if you either have a television with HDCP support or if you are attempting to play unprotected content. Unfortunately, reality has not always followed the theory.

As noted in an Apple Discussions thread, numerous users have reported getting the HDCP error when attempting to watch protected content on a television with HDCP support. In most cases, the problem can be easily solved by re-establishing the connection between the Apple TV and the television. Specifically, unplug both the television and the Apple TV for about a minute (leaving the HDMI cable connected). Next, plug the television back in followed by the Apple TV. The content should now play.

At the other end of the spectrum, Adam Christianson (my colleague over at The Mac Observer) was unable to play non-protected content (his own iMovie video) to a non-HDCP-supported television via AirPlay. Attempting to do so resulted in the HDCP error.

To be clear: there are now two ways to stream a video from iTunes on your Mac to the new Apple TV. The first is to access your Mac’s iTunes Library from the Apple TV and select to stream the video. This worked fine for Adam. The second is to select the Apple TV from iTunes’ AirPlay menu and then select to play the video. This is the method that did not work for Adam. The problem suggests that the AirPlay connection to the Apple TV enforces HDCP restrictions in a manner separate from the Apple TV itself. There may be some bug here.

I am not sure how wide-spread these problems are. In my own testing (to HDCP-supported televisions), I have so far had no trouble playing either protected or unprotected content over the Apple TV, either via Library sharing or via AirPlay. On one occasion, the HDCP error did pop up on my first attempt to play a protected movie over AirPlay. But it all worked fine on my second attempt.

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