AirPlay November 3

AAPL: 122.57

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I don’t envy any vendor of legitimately premium audio accessories made for Apple’s devices. After established audio companies including Bose, Klipsch, and Bowers & Wilkins demonstrated that Apple device owners were willing to pay $300, then $400, then $600 for all-in-one speaker systems with increasingly better sound quality, Beats by Dre materialized, hooking people on expensive, stylish, and sonically underwhelming alternatives. Between Beats and the Bluetooth revolution, it seems clear that the speaker market is all about flash and convenience rather than audio quality… right?

Of course not. There have always been low-end, mid-range, high-end, and ultra-premium audio options; Beats has succeeded at capturing (a lot of) low- to mid-priced customers. By comparison, the respected British speaker maker Bowers & Wilkins focuses on the upper end of the scale. It literally established the high-end Apple speaker category with its original Zeppelin back in 2007, then refreshed it with AirPlay support as Zeppelin Air in 2011.

Now that another four years have passed, B&W has returned with another “even better” sequel: Zeppelin Wireless ($700). Having spent years touting its atypically upscale design and components as alternatives to low-fidelity speakers, the company is offering a compromise to broaden the new Zeppelin’s appeal. Despite packing speaker and amplifier hardware that’s in the same league as B&W’s $800 A7, Zeppelin Wireless includes a key feature — Bluetooth — only found in its entry-level $350 model T7. But the new Zeppelin still has AirPlay, for those who care, as well as Spotify Connect. So while the price tag may limit the number of people who can afford this new all-in-one speaker, its feature set has broad appeal…

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AirPlay October 5

AAPL: 110.78

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I’m an Apple guy. I have enough Apple hardware around my house to serve as a mini-museum and I use Apple’s software and services every single day. But when Google makes something interesting like Chromecast Audio, I can’t help but want to try out the new toy.

Sold for just $35 (Google Store, Best Buy), Chromecast Audio lets you stream audio over the Internet from services like Spotify and NPR to old speakers. This varies from Apple’s AirPlay in that audio streams directly to the Chromecast Audio rather than from device to device, using your iPhone or iPad only as the remote. In practice, Chromecast Audio is most similar to Sonos, but with Google’s accessory selling at a much lower, irresistible price as it relies on your existing speakers rather than all-in-one units.

So what exactly is Chromecast Audio and what can it do for iPhone owners? Read on for details… expand full story

AirPlay September 17

AAPL: 113.92

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With the launch of YouTube Gaming earlier this year, Google’s Twitch competitor that lets users live stream and watch gameplay videos on YouTube, users can now live stream and browse gameplay videos on YouTube from dedicated apps. Google first enabled live streaming the desktop, and today announced plans for Android, but an update to the popular AirServer app is taking advantage of the lack of iOS streaming support by enabling users to live stream directly to YouTube from their iOS devices.

Google does have a YouTube Gaming app or iOS, but it currently only acts as a community-style app for letting users access live streams and recorded gameplay videos from their iPhone or iPad. AirServer, however, tells us it collaborated with YouTube to enable streaming from iOS apps using its mirroring technology: expand full story


AirPlay September 16

AAPL: 116.41

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AirPlay September 11

AAPL: 114.21

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While Apple hasn’t detailed the changes publicly, the company is planning what appears to be a major, undocumented overhaul of its AirPlay protocol with iOS 9 that should make the framework for streaming video and audio content between devices a much smoother experience for both users and developers. It is, however, breaking many screen mirroring apps in the process and forcing developers to scramble to implement workarounds ahead of the launch of iOS 9 on Wednesday and the new Apple TV in the coming weeks.

Perhaps the best example of these apps is Reflector from developer Squirrels. The app utilizes AirPlay to allow cross platform wireless mirroring from mobile devices to Macs, PCs, and other devices with the app installed. The developer first brought the change to our attention and warns that developers will have to follow in its footsteps to implement a workaround that will allow screen mirroring apps to continue functioning after iOS 9 is released…  expand full story

AirPlay September 8

AAPL: 112.31

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Apple’s AirPlay wireless audio protocol didn’t really take off in standalone speakers, but that doesn’t mean every company has abandoned it. Moshi’s Spatia, which recently launched after first being unveiled at CES 2015, relies on AirPlay for wirelessly streaming and playing audio from iTunes and iOS devices. Spatia packs five dedicated drivers and two amplifiers behind a fabric speaker cover to deliver impressive sound within a standout design. AirPlay has some well-known benefits and issues, so is it worth investing $399 in a speaker that depends on Apple’s sometimes-shaky technology? expand full story


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