AirPlay is a great way to stream photos, videos, and music if you have a Mac or an Apple TV. Unfortunately, if you own a PC or some other network connected device AirPlay isn’t natively supported. Thanks to some ambitious software developers you can bring AirPlay to your PC.
There are many non-AirPlay alternatives to streaming your content across your network. I’m going to suggest two solutions. The first combines the iOS app AirMusic with a Windows Media Center (WMC) add-on. The second solution is an all-in-one desktop application called AirServer.
AirMusic ($2.99 | iTunes+). With this universal app you can access and stream your iDevice music over WiFi to a PC running Windows Media Player, an XBox, a PS3 or any compatible DLNA device.
- Connect your iPod, iPhone or iPad to the same WiFi network as your XBox, PS3 or PC.
- Start AirMusic.
- If you have an XBox, turn it on, navigate to the Music Library and select the AirMusic device in the list; If you have a PS3, turn it on, navigate to the Music Menu and select the AirMusic device in the list. If it shows nothing underneath, it probably means you selected the Movie or Photo node; If you have a PC running Windows Vista or Windows 7, start Windows Media Player, your iPhone will show up under “Other Libraries.”
A few things from the developer worth nothing:
- You can background the app but you will be prompted to relaunch the app every 10 minutes for the music to keep playing.
- AirMusic requires an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with a minimum of 50MB of disk space to work effectively.
- On a PC, AirMusic only works with Windows Media Player running on Windows Vista or Windows 7.
- AirMusic will not play old DRM songs purchased on iTunes. Only newer iTunes DRM-free purchases are compatible.
Windows Media Center add-on (free). This option will turn a Windows 7 machine running WMC into an AirPlay compatible device. Set up is a snap, just make sure you have Apple’s Bonjour services installed (32-bit | 64-bit) before installing the add-on.
- Open Windows Media Center.
- On your iDevice open up the photo or video you want to stream and select your WMC from the list of available AirPlay devices.
A few things to remember about this add-on:
- Music is not currently supported. For this, I recommend AirMusic.
- The only issue I’ve read about is related to firewall configuration. Just make sure your network security program allows the add-on to access your network.
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AirServer: An all-in-one solution
AirServer is a paid desktop application that will allow you to use AirPlay enabled apps, mirror your iOS device to your PC/Mac, and connect multiple iOS devices to your Mac over a Wi-Fi connection. The app has a PC and a Mac version, costs about $15 ($12 for those with an .edu email address), and takes all of 3 minutes to download and install.
AirServer supports media apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and BBC’s iPlayer and delivers full 1080p HD mirroring (which is fantastic for gaming). If you have iTunes purchases on your iOS device you can stream those as well provided the PC/Mac you are streaming to is activated under the same account you used to purchase your media. Bottom line, if you have the money, a PC or Mac, and a compatible iOS device you should definitely check out AirServer.
Since Apple and Microsoft will almost never agree on anything (and I’d be surprised if Apple ever provided a native AirPlay solution for PCs) I recommend using the above solutions to get your iOS device’s content streaming to supported devices. If you’d rather not even bother with AirPlay, or don’t have an iDevice, then check out Lifehacker’s AirPlay alternative streaming guide. Whatever you decide you’ll be much happier when you can stream your media across your network.