Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Saturday, 28 September 2013

How to enjoy media files on iPhone without using iTunes (and using Dropbox instead)

I have to assume this works for most smartphones and tablets.

You will need
  • a free Dropbox account* 
  • an iPhone or similar
  • the Dropbox iPhone app installed on your iPhone
  • wifi connectivity
*or you can use my referrer link and give me extra space which is always nice - note that this shares your email address with me, so think about your own privacy too, possibly it shares my email address with you as well!

  • Save the media file into your Dropbox folder on your computer
  • open up the Dropbox app on your iPhone, navigate to the file and play it
    (you'll need the wifi to synchronise with the Dropbox server and to maintain playback - however if you favourite the file you can probably listen to it offline).
I've been listening to mp3s on my iPhone via Dropbox since November 2010 as I find it easier to handle files via Dropbox than iTunes. I just save them in Dropbox and when I open the iPhone app there they are and they play fine.

Yesterday I was rather pleased to discover that it also works for video files and I managed to play a 700mb .avi file as well as a 176mb .wmv file (it's the same programme but the larger one is nearer to broadcast quality).

Not surprisingly the first time I tried to play the larger file it kept cutting out every 10 seconds and seemed to be not working very well at all but a bit of patience was all that was needed. The iPhone did something to it to 'optimise it for mobile playback' no idea what but about 10 minutes later it played all the way through.

Dropbox's own help pages have a list of files that will play including music and video: and they also have a more advanced page for trickier filetypes and how to convert them (they suggest Handbrake - I've only used Zamzar and Real Player).

Media filetypes that I've successfully played on my iPhone via Dropbox
  • .avi
  • .flv
  • .m4a (these are meant for iTunes, but work fine)
  • .mp3
  • .wmv 
Music files listed on Dropbox help files that should work: .mp3, .aiff, .m4a, .wav
Video files listed on their help files that should work: .mov, .mp4, .m4v

Filetypes that I've not had much luck with
  • .m4r - ring tones, but these can be converted to .mp3 files via (I've just tried it, works fine)

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