Monday, November 29, 2010

My Take On AirPlay

With the coming of iOS 4.2, AirPlay is now enabled on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.  Here's a little demo from Apple about AirPlay:

Looks good right?  Well, it's not as easy as it seems.  There are some important limitations to AirPlay that, in my opinion, makes it not-ready-for-primetime.
To take advantage of AirPlay video streaming for your HDTV, you will need a second-generation Apple TV and an iOS device.  The first-generation Apple TV can only stream audio.  Right now, there are some serious limitations to what you can stream through AirPlay:
  • Anything bought from the iTunes store
  • Anything from the YouTube app (although there is already YouTube functionality in Apple TV)
  • Digital copies of movies in iTunes
  • Audio in the iPod app
That's pretty much it.  So right now, you can't stream videos you made yourself, which includes any video you captured on your iPhone 4.  You also can't stream videos embedded in a website in the Safari web browser.  Someone from ZDNet says he was able to stream some TV shows that were converted with Handbrake but I wasn't able to stream a movie converted with Videora.  I heard there is an update coming in December that will give AirPlay more video streaming capabilities.

To use AirPlay, go to the video, picture or audio you want to select.  If you are able to stream it to Apple TV, you will see an icon like this:

Press it and you will have a menu of where you want to stream your media to:

If you only want to stream music and you don't have Apple TV, you can get an AirPort Express.

Now, I have an Apple AV Component Cable and I can use that to show ANY picture, video and audio file on my HDTV from my iPad or iPhone.  In fact, I have the Atomic Web Browser [iTunes link] and since it has a TV Out functionality, I can view embedded videos from within the browser.  Some games that have the TV Out functionality can also be played on the HDTV like Rage HD [iTunes link].

The big drawback to that is your iOS device is tethered to a cord.  And it's not a very long cord either.  Apple never made an HDMI to dock connector cord and I guess Apple is hoping AirPlay will make that obsolete.

Using AirPlay, I have been able to stream quite a bit of music-related apps.  Pandora works beautifully.  Rebirth, Korg iMS-20, iElectribe, GrooveMaker and Seline HD also streams through AirPlay.  However, the audio streaming on those apps are delayed about about a second or two so "live" playing is out of the question.

As soon as AirPlay is updated to at least play videos captured with the iPhone 4, AirPlay will be much, much better.  I hope AirPlay will be eventually extended streaming ANYTHING on the iPhone 4, iPad or iPod Touch.  Now that would be magical.

1 comment:

Parag said...

AirPlay is pure genius and, IMHO, will push the adoption rates of the new Apple TV. Finally, it is all coming together - and without wires!
Apple iPad to get push