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Posts tagged with "airplay"

Airfoil Speakers Touch 3.0 Review

Ever since developers started reverse-engineering the AirPlay protocol that Apple introduced with iOS 4.2 in November 2010, we have seen all kinds of possible implementations of Apple's streaming technology being ported to a variety of devices, for multiple purposes and scenarios. From tools to turn Macs into AirPlay receivers for audio, video, iOS Mirroring sessions, then a combination of all them, to more or less Apple-approved "AirPlay audio receivers" sold in the App Store, then pulled, then released in Cydia, the past two years have surely been interesting for AirPlay.

When it comes to dealing with audio on my Macs and iOS devices, however, my preference always goes to Rogue Amoeba's Airfoil. As covered multiple times in the past here on MacStories, Airfoil is a powerful solution from a renowned Mac development studio that allows you to easily control audio sources on your Mac, and organize how audio is sent across your room through Airfoil Speakers, Airfoil Speakers Touch, or a mix of other utilities as I also previously detailed. I love Airfoil, because it just works. And today it gets even better with a major update to Airfoil Speakers Touch, which reaches version 3.0, becomes universal, and adds a $2.99 in-app purchase to turn any iOS device into an AirPlay receiver for audio.

Available for free on the App Store, the new Airfoil Speakers Touch runs beautifully on iPhones or iPads with Retina display. More importantly, it doesn't require you to send audio to the app exclusively through Airfoil on your computer (more here), as an in-app purchase will unlock the ability to receive audio from iTunes or any AirPlay-enabled iOS app or device. This is neatly illustrated by the in-app purchase unlocking screen inside Airfoil Speakers Touch 3.0.

By enabling the "Input II" option, you'll be able to turn a device running Airfoil Speakers Touch into an AirPlay receiver recognized by iTunes on your computer, iOS apps like Rdio, Spotify or Instacast, or iOS itself through the system-wide playback controls in the multitasking tray. In my tests, Airfoil Speakers Touch 3.0 was correctly recognized by iTunes, iOS 5.1 on iPhones and iPads, and any app that allowed for streaming audio through AirPlay.

The true potential of Airfoil, obviously, is unlocked when you start combining the various utilities provided by Rogue Amoeba together to build your own personalized wireless audio setup. Whilst I greatly appreciate the support for native AirPlay integration (at $2.99 and in the App Store, it's a no-brainer), I still like to control audio in my office or living room with a mix of Airfoil, Airfoil Speakers Touch, and Reemote. The latter is a fantastic third-party utility that, connecting to Airfoil on the Mac with a "server" app, allows you to directly control single audio sources and volume levels on iOS.

This means that, if I want to simply stream audio from iTunes or iOS to my iPhone and iPad I can use Airfoil's new input method; if the audio I want to stream, though, comes from apps like Rdio for Mac or QuickTime, I can fire up Airfoil, beam the audio with its InstantOn technology, and control everything -- sources and volumes and playback controls -- with Reemote for Airfoil. I can even control standalone speakers connected to my Mac if I want to get audio both on my iPad and the external speakers. It's a wireless audio nerd's dream setup.

Airfoil is one of my favorite apps ever created for the Mac -- one that I immediately install every time I set up a new OS X installation -- and now the iOS version has proper AirPlay support through a $2.99 in-app purchase that, ultimately, just works. If you've been looking for an easy way to, say, beam iTunes or iPad audio to an iPhone connected to your car's system, the latest Airfoil Speakers Touch gets the job done. And if your audio listening habits are made of more complex and variegate needs, you can stay assured Airfoil Speakers Touch will equally serve you well thanks to the combination of Rogue Amoeba-made and third-party utilities mentioned above.

Get Airfoil Speakers Touch 3.0 here.

Stream Wirelessly to Your HDTV with AirPlay Mirroring

AirPlay Mirroring is a new feature to iOS 5 that allows you to stream anything on your iPad 2 or iPhone 4S directly to your HDTV with the help of an Apple TV.

This feature will appeal to all types of consumers. Businesses will find great value in AirPlay Mirroring because of the versatility that it brings to presentations in the workplace. As someone that works in an office setting I can tell you that there are not many affordable and reliable wireless presentation options. At a price of only $99, the Apple TV is inexpensive enough that businesses can have one in every conference room readily available for employees to stream presentations, PDFs, and even multimedia files from their compatible iOS devices. Educational institutions will be able to provide an even greater and immersive learning experience for students. Gamers will enjoy their favorite iOS games on their big screen TVs. The list goes on and on.

So how does AirPlay Mirroring work? First the iOS device and the Apple TV must be on the same wireless network. Then from the iOS device simply double tap the Home button and swipe all the way to the right. There you will find the AirPlay button that when tapped will display all of the AirPlay enabled devices on the network. As shown below, The Apple TV now has a new option labeled Mirroring. This option is off by default and you can actually continue to use AirPlay with no obligation to stream your screen to the television. Enabling the Mirroring option will immediately transmit whatever is on the screen up on to the television. The status bar at the top of the device will turn blue indicating that device is currently streaming to the Apple TV. When the device is rotated the image on the TV is rotated. When a key is pressed the software keyboard on the TV shows the key being pressed. It is quite impressive.

I found the performance of AirPlay Mirroring to be incredible. The setup I tested was an Apple TV connected over Ethernet to an Apple Airport Extreme and the iPad 2 obviously connected over WiFi. I immediately tried a few apps like Safari, FaceTime, and Photo Booth. All of them performed flawlessly on the HDTV. I remember thinking how impressive it was the first time I saw Photo Booth running on an iPad 2 and it had nine separate boxes each with a live video filter running. It was even more impressive to see the iPad mirror all of those live video filters wirelessly to my television. I also opened multiple types of files from my Dropbox app and they looked great on the big screen. When I started a video the iPad exited Mirroring mode and only played the video on the TV. When the video was stopped it switched right back in to Mirroring mode without any troubles.

Next I fired up ShadowGun to test the performance of a graphic intensive game. Once again AirPlay Mirroring did not dissapoint. It was difficult at first to look at the TV and use the controls on the iPad because they are not physical buttons but luckily you still see the controls on the television. It was a whole new experience to the play the game with audio booming out of my home theater sound system. I really enjoyed it.

AirPlay Mirroring unlocks a new array of uses for iOS devices and is a shining example of amazing integration between Apple’s products. It is just one of many new and exciting features that ship with iOS 5 for the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S.

AirServer 3.0 Brings AirPlay to the Mac With Full iOS 5, Lion Support

When I first reviewed AirServer for Mac back in May, what I saw was a very simple and fairly stable utility that allowed users to transmit audio, photos and videos from an iOS device to a Mac's screen on a local network. Since the launch of AirPlay in November 2010, a number of unofficial apps and hacks have surfaced enabling users to enjoy Apple's streaming technology on otherwise unsupported devices: AirServer aside, we've seen other apps to turn iOS devices into AirPlay receivers and even popular apps for the Mac adopt AirPlay's streaming for music.

AirServer, initially released as a simple menubar app, has always been the app that aimed at bringing "AirPlay for everything" to the Mac since its first version. Whereas similar hacks from other developers focused on turning the Mac into a receiver for photos or video, AirServer has been improving on the concept of a standalone solution for sending anything via AirPlay from iOS to OS X. The app eventually made the leap to iOS for jailbroken devices, and gained initial iOS 5 and Lion support earlier this year.

With AirServer 3.0, released yesterday, the developers have completely re-engineered AirServer to fully take advantage of iOS 5's AirPlay and Lion compatibility. I've tested the app last night, and it's already working fine on the Golden Master releases of iOS 5 and OS X 10.7.2. Once you've installed AirServer 3.0 as a preference pane (it's also got a new iCloud-like icon) and assigned a name to your Mac (the one that will show up in the list of AirPlay devices on iOS), you'll be able to send music, photos and videos to your Mac. Unlike the previous versions of the app, however, support for AirPlay streaming has been dramatically improved: music never dropped on my connection, not even once, and it's possible to send photos and music at the same time. Thanks to iOS 5, AirServer has integrated seamless streaming transitions between photos, slideshows and videos -- the app supports AirPlay slideshows from the Photos app on iOS, including animations that will be displayed on your Mac's screen as AirPlay switches between photos. The transition between songs, photos and slideshows is smooth and much more natural than AirServer 2.

The big change in AirServer 3.0 is video streaming. With the new version the developers have replaced QuickTime Player with their own video player based off Perian, which is optimized for network streaming and multiple displays. I have tried the new AirPlay video streaming with several videos from my Camera Roll, YouTube and Safari, and it's incredibly better than the old QuickTime-based streaming. The player looks nice, but more importantly it's fast and loads videos coming from an iPhone or iPad much quicker than before. You can use the video player in full-screen mode, or resize its window to fill a portion of the screen.

At $7.99, AirServer is a complete solution to turn your Mac into an AirPlay receiver for music, photos and videos. Get it here.

Real Racing’s “Party Play” To Bring Split Screen Multiplayer with AirPlay Mirroring

One of the lesser publicised new features coming in iOS 5 is AirPlay Mirroring, a new functionality that enables an app to connect to an Apple TV and mirror its contents on to the connected TV. It effectively allows users to show their iPad or iPhone screen on a TV without the HDMI cable as is currently required. Back in June, Apple'n'Apps posted a video of how it worked and Engadget showed off Angry Birds Rio HD and Real Racing 2 HD being played on a TV through AirPlay Mirroring.

In June Firemint announced that it will be bringing an optimised AirPlay experience to the app, and today they are expanding upon that announcement, revealing 'Party Play'. Using AirPlay and wireless local multiplayer, 'Party Play' in Real Racing 2 will enable up to 4 players to play together in a split screen match streamed to a TV through AirPlay.

The only downside is that it will require a host player to be using an iPad 2 or the newly announced iPhone 4S (this is due to the requirement of the A5 processor when using AirPlay Mirroring). The other players can be using any other iOS device that supports Real Racing 2 or Real Racing 2 HD - you can even have a mix of iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. Firemint is also promising that the update including 'Party Play' will also come with "gorgeous graphical enhancements that make use of the iPad 2 & iPhone 4S A5 processor".

Jump the break to view a promo video of Real Racing 2's 'Party Play' mode.

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ClickToPlugin Brings AirPlay Support to Safari for Mac

ClickToFlash, the popular plugin to block Adobe Flash content in Safari and make videos play in higher quality through HTML5, had to go through a series of changes after Apple released Safari 5.1, which dropped support for WebKit Plugins. Those of you who use ClickToFlash on a daily basis may have noticed that ClickToFlash for Safari 5.1 recently got a new home, and it's been developed by Marc Hoyois as a Safari extension called ClickToPlugin.

Marc Hoyois actually offers both ClickToPlugin and ClickToFlash rewritten as a Safari extension -- the former is simply a broader version of ClickToFlash that doesn't stop at Flash content, but prevents Safari from launching a variety of plugins, including Facebook Video Calling and Java. The same functionality of ClickToFlash is still there, only it's been split in two versions depending on what you need (if you only want to block Flash, get the new ClickToFlash extension) with a new settings page. As usual, the extension replaces content with a placeholder that doesn't load automatically and, when possible, allows for a direct plugin-to-HTML5 conversion that, in the case of YouTube, will allow you to load a video's source in higher quality. ClickToFlash/ClickToPlugin comes with several preferences to tweak and support for many video websites -- you should check out the complete list of features and screenshots of the settings at the developer's website.

An update released earlier this week for the ClickToPlugin/ClickToFlash extensions adds a feature Mac users have been requesting since the introduction of iOS 4.2 last year -- AirPlay support in Safari for Mac. While AirPlay had been enabled first in Apple's iOS apps, then the Mobile Safari browser and third-party apps, Mac users were only given AirPlay support for audio in iTunes, but nothing related to video streaming on OS X. A number of hacks and utilities surfaced to send Mac video to an Apple TV or AirPlay receiver and even turn a Mac into an AirPlay-compatible device, but there's never been a way to easily select a video in the browser, and instantly beam it to an Apple TV with the click of a button.

The latest ClickToPlugin adds exactly this feature in combination with its built-in HTML5 video recognition and a second utility available on Marc Hoyois' website called Media Center. Version 2.5.2 of Hoyois' extension adds a new "AirPlay" option in the HTML5 media player (the one you get if you, say, decide to replace Flash content on YouTube with HTML5 video), enabling you to send video to an Apple TV on your network. The Apple TV's hostname or IP address needs to be specified in ClickToPlugin's settings, but it's set by default to apple-tv.local, which is what Apple gives you with an Apple TV out of the box. The default hostname worked for me and found my Apple TV (connected with WiFi first, then via Ethernet to my AirPort Extreme).

Once ClickToPlugin is set to fetch HTML5 video instead of Flash (you can optionally choose a default resolution -- I picked 720p) and the Apple TV is configured to accept incoming AirPlay streams (the extension has support for AirPlay passwords, too), you'll be able to try AirPlay in Safari by opening a YouTube video, like this one, and choose AirPlay from the source selector on the top left. If your settings are correct, the video should start playing on your Apple TV.

Media Center works in conjunction with the latest ClickToPlugin in that it adds a contextual menu item to links and HTML5 media to download a video file, open it in QuickTime, or send it to an Apple TV via AirPlay. Some of these functionalities are already provided by ClickToPlugin, but I like Media Center's AirPlay action on right-click and, more importantly, the toolbar button that allows you to stop a a video from being streamed to the Apple TV.

In my tests, ClickToPlugin and Media Center have been fairly reliable, streaming 720p content from YouTube to my Apple TV, although I've experienced some connection drops (the video would stop playing after a few minutes on the Apple TV) and errors with the Vimeo website. I need to mention, though, that I'm running OS X, Safari and Apple TV beta software, so that might be the culprit. Even with these betas (OS X 10.7.2, Safari 5.1.1, Apple TV Software beta 6), ClickToPlugin's AirPlay support worked fine most of the time, and I'm sure optimizations for the new OS and Safari will be available once Apple publicly releases the updates. I've also noticed you don't have to keep a tab open after the video starts playing with AirPlay, but Safari can't be quit or you'll lose the AirPlay stream.

I wouldn't be surprised to see native AirPlay support by Apple in a future version of Safari for Mac (or, even better, systemwide AirPlay support on OS X), but right now, ClickToPlugin and Media Center provide an interesting solution for those who want to comfortably enjoy video from their web browser on a widescreen TV. The extensions surely need some work and refinements, and it would be great to see them land on Chrome someday (if it's even possible, I don't know).

Go download ClickToPlugin and Media Center on Marc Hoyois' website.

Ustream Releases iPad App with AirPlay Support

Ustream, the popular web service to broadcast and interact with live events, updated its iPhone app back in March to unify the broadcasting and chatting features in a single package that allowed users to record and engage in conversations in the chat room at the same time, providing additional social features for Facebook and Twitter sharing as well. With a new update released today and now available on the App Store, Ustream is bringing native support to iPad owners with a brand new app that's been completely redesigned to take advantage of the iPad's larger screen. The update is universal, so you'll need to update your existing Ustream iPhone app to get the iPad version.

Just like the iPhone app, Ustream for iPad will let you broadcast and interact with your audience from a single interface that, on the iPad, lays out video, audio, chat and social controls in a semi-circular overlay control popup similar to Grazing's slidepad. You can flip cameras and adjust audio, or if you want to see what's happening online, head over the social stream to hear what people are saying on Twitter and Facebook about your show, or simply pop into the chat room dedicated to your broadcast. Obviously, you can also watch live shows and participate in the chat room -- Ustream's iPad app lets you check on popular, live and featured shows right from the homepage, so if you're a heavy Ustream user you'll always have something to tune into. Among the new features, Ustream also touts "Airplay support for true social interactive viewing of the chat and social stream".

Ustream already had a very solid iPhone app, and this new iPad version contributes to making the service a complete solution that works on any web browser, and now iOS devices as well. Get the app here for free.

Airfoil, Reemote and AirPlay: A Multi-Speaker Wireless Setup

When I first covered the 4.5 update for Airfoil, which added extended AirPlay support and remote controls for compatible apps, a reader suggested an interesting hack or, better, workflow for wireless audio in the comments: given Airfoil's capability of sending audio from a single source to multiple speakers or devices at once, it was possible to send audio from iOS to the Mac using AirServer, and then pass along data from AirServer (which acts as an AirPlay receiver on the Mac) to speakers recognized by Airfoil. Later, another reader chimed in to say that, considering Airfoil's recent improvements, there was no need to install a separate app -- Airfoil Speakers itself could handle the AirPlay stream from iOS to OS X, and then be used as an input source in Airfoil. When combined with an app like Reemote, this setup would allow you to send audio from an iPhone or iPad to the Mac wirelessly, from the Mac to another set of speakers or computers, and then control everything from iOS. Read more

If you don’t have an iPhone, you don’t have AirPlay or FaceTime.

Apple doesn't just make a handsome phone — the iPhone has plenty of unique features that separate it from the competition. A pair of new iPhone commercials are taking the stage tonight, putting AirPlay and FaceTime in the spotlight. The commercials, both featuring the same catchy background jingle we've become familiar in the "If you don't have an iPhone" series, show off just how easy it is to use the iPhone for sharing photos, videos, and conversations across the Apple TV, Mac, and iPad. While the commercials do come off a bit bumptious as usual in this series, the AirPlay commercial does a great job of showing off just how easy it is to stream media to your television or play music wirelessly through your home stereo system. AirPlay is something I've come to love in iOS 4 on my iPad and iPod touch, and I'm glad to see it getting its own air time in Apple's latest set of commercials. Past the break we've posted both videos for your viewing enjoyment.

[via Apple]

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Rogue Amoeba Launches Airfoil Touch 2

Instead of connecting to your iPhone or iPod touch from your Mac, what if you had the convenience of setting it up as a receiver right from your pocket? That's the quick summary of Airfoil Touch 2, which is now available on the App Store for free. If you happen to have a setup consisting of multiple Airfoil enabled machines, or you don't want to bounce between multiple rooms to make music streaming happen, Airfoil Touch 2 has a convenient setup where you can now "reverse connect" by selecting the appropriate input node on your Wi-Fi network.

Artwork and metadata are now transferred to your iOS device when streaming music, and an improved equalizer can be customized to fit your mood. Most importantly, however, is the built in remote controls for changing tracks and pausing music right from your pocket. You can't browse your library, but you can skip over a poor playlist choice when streaming on the network. If you're listening to music from your pocket, the music controls on your dangling white earbuds can also control playback. When you want to browse the web or play a game, Airfoil Touch 2 works in the background and in conjunction with the multitasking tray for easy media control.

Rogue Amoeba have been making steady improvements to their Airfoil apps, and if you haven't check it out, there's been some recent updates to the parent app for the Mac (that's just reached version 4.5) that's worth checking out.

[via Under the Microscope: Rogue Amoeba Blog]