Best AirPlay apps for Android: tried and tested
Here's a selection of the best AirPlay apps for Android to stream music from iTunes, around your home
Apple’s AirPlay is revolutionary. It lets users wirelessly stream content and media around the home and mirror your iDevice’s display onto an Apple TV-connected HDTV. Plus, it’s available on
all iPhone, iPad and OS X-powered devices.
As solutions go it’s one of the best on the market and because it ships as standard on all iOS and new OS X-powered devices you don’t need to do anything in the way of an installation – it simply works out the box. In Mavericks, Airplay TV even has a seperate display.
The hardware that brings all this together – Apple TV – is also extremely affordable, compared to competing services like Boxee (£151) and WDTV Media Live, (£163) at just £99 as well, making Apple's wireless network solution a very compelling one, indeed. And film streaming services such as LOVEFiLM have also cottoned onto it, recently updating their app to give better AirPlay support.
But there are some issues - to truly enjoy AirPlay you need to be fully integrated into Apple’s ecosystem. In this sense AirPlay is very much a closed system, meaning limited access for anything that’s not powered by iOS. But while you’d think that might mean it’s bad news for Apple TV owners that also use Android devices it’s surprisingly not the case.
Hundreds of Android applications available on the Google Play store are designed specifically to take advantage of Apple’s AirPlay. We've tested quite a few over the past year and while some are better than others, offering varied features and usability, there's a lot of good stuff available out there. Below is a selection of our pick of the best:
This all-in-one app connects your music, podcasts, and radio and allows you to sync to your phone or laptop from AirSync over Wi-Fi. The app itself is free, but in order to unlock AirSync and AirPlay to Apple TV you have to buy the upgrade. The upgraded version also allows you to manage podcasts and perform album art searches. The best part about the app is that it automatically imports iTunes playlists, ratings and play counts and that you can stream music, not only to Apple TV but to Xbox 360, PS3 and Sonos.
Using AirStream to stream media content over Wi-Fi networks is quite simple with only five quick steps. After installing AirStream onto your PC, all that’s left to do is check that firewall will not block the application, put all devices on the same Wi-Fi network and select the files you want to watch. Great for streaming movies and music, the application also boasts the ability to restrict access to personal files from your PC. AirStream is a free app that helps to solve the problem of running out of storage space on your mobile.
With the tagline, 'Your Android, on the Web', you would expect seamless connectivity from the free app and this seems to be the case, as many reviews reference a user-friendly interface and good functionality. The app’s key features include the ability to send and receive SMS from the computer, moving files and media on and off Android without the use of wires, and app management. AirDroid also has interesting features not found on many other similar apps, such as the ability to locate a lost Android phone and lock it and see through the lens of the phone or stream the screen of the Android in “nearly” real time. For a free app, AirDroid has a lot of features without a lot of complications.
AirAudio streams audio-signals from applications on Android devices to any AirPlay-enabled receiver. The catch? The app description gives this caveat: 'If your device is supported and you are streaming direct audio-signals from your device, AirAudio will insert some noise until you have purchased a small activation license from inside the application.' While most reviews rave about the functionality of the app, others discuss how the few problems they encountered were quickly fixed after contacting the developer.
iPlayAudio/iTunes Full version may cost £1.32, but is certainly one of the best ways of streaming your music around your home from any Android device. Allowing you to use an old Android device purely as a speaker or your own device to play tunes via throughout your house, iPlayAudio Airplay/iTunes Full allows you to stream your music seamlessly.
The slick application may be a little basic, not allowing video streaming or playing in sync with other AirPlay receivers, but it does allow you to rename the speaker and mutes music playback if a call comes in.
Like iPlayAudio Airplay/iTunes Full, AirBubble costs £1.32 for a full license. The main difference between the licensed and unlicensed versions of Airbubble is that the unlicensed version will quit every 30 minutes, meaning you have to reboot the app.
It's a little simpler to use than a lot of the apps listed here - just working in the background while you continue to do as you wish on your phone while listening uniterrupted to streaming music.
Relatively new to the market, Android HIFI is a free application that lets you access your iTunes library on any Android-powered device using AirPlay. This means you can stream your PC’s iTunes library direct to your Android phone or tablet using Apple’s bespoke streaming technology. All that’s required is that both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network.
Another free application, Twonky Beam lets you stream content from your Android handset direct to Apple TV and AirPlay-enabled speakers and PCs. It’s easy to use and well put together and, because it uses DLNA, is supported on 14,000 additional other media devices, so even if you don’t have Apple TV, you’ll no doubt have something in the house that’s compatible with it.
The idea behind Twonky Beam is simple: using Airplay, as well as DLNA and Bluetooth, it lets you ‘Beam’ content from your Android smartphone to your HDTV. The application ships with a selection of video-channels and is very easy to use – just select what you want to view on your TV and hit the Beam button.
Key features include:
- Open multiple sites at once with tabbed browsing
- Play the videos locally on the mobile device or beam them to a player on your home network
- Seeing the Twonky Beam Button lets you quickly know when you can beam something
- Create and manage bookmarks for your favorite websites
- Quickly access recommended links to websites that contain content you can beam
- Play selected content to remote devices, while continuing to browse
- Create and manage a queue of content
- Browse, beam, or play media on your tablet or phone or another media server in your home network
- Share media on your tablet or phone with other devices
- Play or beam PlayReady or DTCP-IP protected content (requires valid content license and compatible player for beaming) ( Requires Android 4.0 or higher)
- Browse and beam media contained in RSS feeds
Just like Apple’s own Remote for iTunes, this handy application for Android gives you control over not only your Apple TV but also connected iTunes libraries, allowing for seamless interaction with all your media – and all without ever touching your PC or that annoying little Apple TV remote.
The only downside of this application is the price – it costs £3.99. There is, however, a ‘trail’ version available on Google’s Play store, so you’re free to try it out before coughing up any real dough. It’s a great application though, and well worth the asking price, doing everything Apple’s version does and more.
This application is the daddy of all Android AirPlay applications, having a wealth of unique features that really set it apart from the competition. With iMedia Share, not only can you control and stream content from your Android handset to AirPlay-enabled devices but you can also access network-connected devices like a NAS drive and then stream it using AirPlay to a variety of media players.
Buy the full version and you get access to the following HD channels that can, of course, be streamed over AirPlay to your Apple TV-connected HDTV: Animal Planet, Bild, Beet TV, Break.com, CBS News, CNBC, CNET (SD only), CNN, COIN-OP TV, College Humor, Dailymotion, Deutsche Welle, Driving Sports, Earth Touch, Engadget, Euronews, Facebook, France 24, Funny or Die, G4, Harvard Business Review, HDNet, Les Debiles, MaYoMo, Motorz (SD only), NASA TV, NY Times, Picasa, PR Newswire, PSN, Revision3 (SD only), Showtime, Spiegel Online, TED Talks (SD only), The Onion, TWiT TV, VideoBASH, Vimeo, White House, YDN Design, and YouTube (SD only).
This application is about as good as it gets and well worth the £3.09 asking price.
If you’re not in the mood to splash the cash but want a streaming application that is compatible with Airplay then this could be the app for you.
Coming in two versions: free and paid, PlayTo promises to stream media from your Android-device to your HDTV as easily as AirPlay. They weren’t kidding. PlayTo is a simple application with big possibilities, letting you access connected devices (NAS drives) and share media around the home using either DLNA or AirPlay.
Like iMedia Share, PlayTo also features a rather exhaustive list of video channels and also supports the following media servers: TVersity, Plex Media Server (v0.9.6.0 and above), Serviio, Majestic, XBMC, Twonky, Skifta, Windows Media Player, iMediaShare, PS3 Media Server, QNAP and Iomega.
The full version of PlayTo costs just £1.86, making it one of the most compelling applications in this list. Like iMedia Share, this is a must have application.