Mmm AirPlay I Love You

On first sighting of Apple’s AirPlay technology I was initially impressed but wasn’t sure how much it offered over their existing AirTunes facilities which I’d been using with Airport Express/Apple TV (the first one) for some time. This weekend I got to use AirPlay “properly” for the first time.

I wanted to listen to another of the excellent 5by5 Studios podcasts which I had on my iPhone. I had a few options:

  • Listen on the iPhone using headphones;
  • Listen on the iPhone using the built-in speaker;
  • Listen on the iPhone plugged into an external set of speakers;
  • Listen on the Apple TV attached to the HD TV;

The problems

Using headphones for the iPhone just didn’t seem like a good option - I was looking after my daughter at the time and headphones would have gotten in the way and are a very attractive proposition for someone who is still investigating this new world by sticking things in her mouth and seeing what they taste like.

The iPhone’s built-in speaker is reasonable, but wasn’t quite enough to overcome the volume levels exhibited in the shrieks of a 5-month old girl who has been denied another opportunity to stick a remote control into her mouth.

I could have plugged the iPhone into a trusty set of external speakers which would have overcome all of the pitfalls posed by my daughter. Unfortunately that meant leaving the iPhone on the other side of the room and would have denied me the comforting feeling I get when I know the Internet is always within my easy reach.

The final option was to forget the iPhone and instead start up my Apple TV and stick on the HD TV in order to listen to an audio-only podcast. Unfortunately our most recent electricity bill was so big that I’m still on the resulting energy efficiency kick. I really didn’t want to turn on the Apple TV (about 17W) and the HD TV (about 150W) just to listen to audio.

The solution

And so to the rescue comes AirPlay. In the same room I had the afore-mentioned external speakers, and an Airport Express. I fired up the iPhone and started the podcast playing then selected the Airport Express as the target for the audio. After a small delay (about a second) Dan Benjamin’s voice was coming out of my speakers.

I still had the iPhone in hand and could surf at will. I could hear the podcast over my daughter’s vocal contributions. I was saving money by not using the TV wastefully.

That’s why I say “Mmm AirPlay I Love You”.1

  1. For those that get it, good, for those who don’t this is a play on the excellent tune “Mmm Skyscraper I Love You” by Underworld from their Dubnobasswithmyheadman album. If you don’t own it, you should.