Airplay is Apple’s proprietary protocol but with a few tricks you can easily get Windows Media Player and Android integrated with a wireless Airplay speaker system.
I'm one of those die-hards that have refused to let iTunes into my life and I have always felt more empowered for it. That is until we installed a hot tub in the backyard and wanted to enjoy music while we chillaxed. If you are like me and have all your music on a windows PC liberated from iTunes, and you want to stream your library to the backyard without having to run inside every time you want to skip a song, this article will save your day.
While shopping around for a good portable wireless speaker, I soon realised just how much the hardware manufacturers have embraced Apple's Airplay protocol. Every solution for my situation required me to either have iTunes or an iPhone to access and control my library remotely. It was very frustrating not to see any Windows or Android branding on the packaging for the reassurance my $500 outlay would work on my home network and tablets. My options were also limited by my requirements for the speaker to be weatherproof with a rechargeable battery.
So before shelling out hundreds of dollars on an Airplay speaker, the first thing I did was investigate my options for using AirPlay on Windows and Android. I also wanted to test my wifi range and quality when streaming music over AirPlay to the backyard. You can do all this for no cost as there are trial versions for all the required software available.
If you don't have an AirPlay speaker yet, just download AirBubble from the Google Play store for free, and it will turn your Android device into an AirPlay receiver.
AirBubble is a lightweight AirPlay audio receiver. It will appear in AirPlay applications (such as itunes) as a device you can play music to. It works in the background, streaming music to your Android device.
This application let's you choose the audio source such as Windows Media Player or browser running Pandora etc, and then what AirPlay devices you want to send the audio to.
Send any audio from your PC to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, iPhones and iPods Touch, and even other PCs and Macs, all in sync! Use Airfoil with web-based audio like Pandora, music services like Spotify, Rdio, MOG, and WiMP, or any other audio playing on your computer. Airfoil for Windows gives you your audio on AirPlay devices all around the house.
Step 3 – Testing
Ensure AirBubble has been started on your Android. Now you can open Airfoil on the PC and select Windows Media Player. Start a track and head outside to test your wifi range.
Installing this app on your Android device will give you full control of your entire music library on Windows. I had some minor trouble getting it to work with my network configuration, however it only took a couple of quick emails to author Markus Gehlhaar to realise it was my dumb fault in the end. So support was very good and fast.
Have you ever wanted a Windows Media Center/Player remote app? Then Media Center Control is made for you. Remote control everything from your phone, even if your TV/display is switched off.
After proving that this configuration was workable, I went out and purchased my AirPlay speaker and it was all very easy to get going with the real hardware. The speaker I purchased also supports the DLNA protocol, however attempts to configure this just brought on Windows 7 pain so i’m sticking with AirPlay because “it just works”.
Have you had any experience with AirPlay or DLNA for remote listening and controlling your music library outside of Apple’s ecosystem?