At some point you've probably heard about AirPlay, a wireless streaming feature found on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or any Mac or Windows PC running iTunes. While some features had been available for years under the AirTunes moniker, Apple rolled out the AirPlay name and an expanded feature list in the fall of 2010. With the arrival of iOS 4.3, AirPlay has been further enhanced, and--perhaps most significantly--third-party consumer electronics manufacturers are adding it to their products.
Apple sums up the technology like this on its regularly updated "Using AirPlay" page, which has some troubleshooting tips.
With AirPlay, you can wirelessly stream videos, music, and photos from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to Apple TV (2nd generation) and stream music to AirPlay speakers or receivers, including AirPort Express. You can also wirelessly stream videos and music from your computer to Apple TV (2nd generation) and stream music to AirPlay speakers or receivers, including AirPort Express.
That pretty much tells you what it's all about, but here's a closer look at what you need to know about AirPlay and some tips for getting the most out of it.
Only a limited number of products are currently AirPlay-compatible: Right now, only a handful of products offer AirPlay compatibility (see slideshow, below) and they tend to be fairly expensive. The exception is the Apple TV, which only costs $99, and Apple's AirPort Express (also $99 list). The majority of early AirPlay products are speaker systems, plus a few AV receivers that offer built-in AirPlay support.
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