For a long time now, I’ve owned the AirPort Express, Apple’s basic wireless base station. In fact I have an AirPort Extreme as well and use them together to expand the signal around the house, but that’s a story for another day.
One of the cool things about the AirPort Express is that you have always been able to plug in an music output. It could be to an amplifier or to some other speakers like a sound dock or similar. Then using iTunes on any Mac on the same network you can stream music to the speakers.
See the screen show on the right, get access to this menu from itunes in the bottom right hand corner.
So none of this is new. What is new is that you can now do the same thing from any iOS device (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad).
Well you may say why bother, I could just use iTunes to send the music. Well yes but I know there are many times when I couldn’t be bothered turning a Mac on, so now I can just flip on the iPad and start streaming away.
Also really cool if you like to listen to other things like Podcasts or Internet radio that you have on your iPhone, now stream it to your AirPort Express.
You will notice (when you’ve updated to iOS4.2 on your iPhone/iPad etc…) that in the iPod app for example there is now the AirPlay logo, and you’ll find that opening that up will show you all the devices that your iPhone has found that it can stream to.
Apple’s own remote app that has been around for a long time also now support AirPlay, the screen shot here shows it controlling multiple speakers.
If you don’t own an Apple AirPort base station there are other options. Dock and speaker manufactures have already started to release products that are AirPlay compatible. Check out this review of iHome’s first offering.
Now in this post I’ve only covered streaming audio. I haven’t played with an Apple TV yet but with that you can also stream video. If you’re interested in video and the Apple TV, check out this story.
One last thing, if you’d like to see more there’s an Apple video on the AirPlay subject that introduces it, click below to play it.