Apple's AirPlay lets people watch movies, looking at photos, and of course listening to music wirelessly, zapping the content from their iPhones, iPod touches or iPads to their televisions and home speaker systems with a variety of popular iOS music apps.
What about Google's Android devices — do those work with AirPlay too? Last year, Evolver.fm reported that Apple's wireless music influence was in fact starting to be felt on Android. Meanwhile, Google's competing Fling platform has effectively been a non-starter.
We've since seen a slow but steady rise in Android apps that stream music to Apple TV, Airport Express and AirPlay-compatible speakers and sound systems. Google should be worried. This is how people develop a taste for Apple.
That's their problem. To help Android owners who want in on wireless home music without waiting for Google to get its act together, here are the best Android apps for streaming music to Apple's AirPlay devices:
Taglists by Eye-C: The first Android AirPlay app to catch our attention, this multi-platform app builds on Twitter hash tags to create playlists (or "Taglists") out of music on YouTube, SoundCloud and elsewhere, and share them on your social networks. That's a fairly simple and ingenious idea, but we mention it here because Eye-C also makes it easy to play these playlists on AirPlay speakers and other devices.
Remote For iTunes: Apple's own Remote app for iPhone and iPad is popular in part because it controls music on computers running iTunes, and can extend that music to AirPlay devices too — all without music fans ever touching their computers. Developer Hyperfine developed an Apple Remote counterpart for Android (and Windows Phone) that does pretty much the same thing. Using its sleek black layout, you can search and play iTunes music on a computer from your Android. Bonus: It also controls volume on multiple AirPlay devices individually.
iMediaShare: Lots of apps can stream via AirPlay, as we've seen, but some also include content from a range of media properties, built right in. Developer Bianor created an app that acts sort of like a remote control that's also the cable box, so you can switch between between online channels, your Android's music library and other media services - and stream any of it to AirPlay. The channel-surfing interface feels like the iPhone's or Android's graphical list of app icons with a nice selection (YouTube, The Onion, etc). All of this is playable on a long list of hardware, thanks to DLNA: game consoles (PlayStation3, XBox 360), televisions (Samsung, Sony, etc), audio home electronics (Sonos, Onkyo, etc), and, of course, any Airplay-enabled device. It's a monstrous app.
Twonky: PacketVideo's Twonky comes in two flavours. Twonky Mobile resembles iMediaShare in that it's an all-inclusive streaming app for music, video, and photos to lots of different devices, but with a different look and feel. Then, there's Twonky Music, which works as a conduit for your Android's music collection or your favourite web radio sources to any AirPlay- or DLNA-enabled device. While it's lighter on the features than Twonky Mobile, Twonky Music has its own special bonuses; the "Flipside" feature is one of the tastiest, with artist information, biographies, lyrics, and news. It's a nice feature for those who want to find out more about what they're listening to without switching apps.
AirBubble: Bubblesoft's offering does something a little different: It works in reverse to the way these other apps work. Instead of sending music from Android to AirPlay devices, basically acts as an AirPlay receiver. Connect your Android to some speakers, fire up AirBubble, and you can stream from iTunes or any other AirPlay-enabled streamer — even an iPhone — to your sound system.
Honey Player: As its developer rich & high puts it, this is "the sweetest player for Android with Airplay." It's exactly that: nice, sweet, and useful. This simple and effective music player streams music from your Android's music library to any AirPlay device without a lot of extra bells and whistles. Its classy and enjoyable layout lets you can choose some music, pick the output, and rate your music with ease. If it's "simple" you're after, you just found it.
Evolver.fm observes, tracks and analyses the music apps scene, with the belief that it's crucial to how humans experience music, and how that experience is evolving.