Buyer’s Guide: Getting the Most Out of AirPlay

While the iPad would be an excellent gift for anyone in the family, what do you get someone that already has one? They’ve got that shiny new toy that does just about everything, and they’ve made it harder to shop for them.

AppStorm is here to the rescue. We’ve compiled a list of items and apps that can extend the functionality of the iPad using one of its greatest features: AirPlay.

What is AirPlay?

AirPlay is some seemingly magical technology from Apple that allows you to stream content from your iPad to a compatible device. Apps can support AirPlay directly, and the iPad also allows you to ‘mirror’ the display on a properly equipped display. This feature is being utilized in new and exciting ways constantly, and there are some really awesome products available.

The Ultimate All-in-One

Without a doubt the greatest AirPlay-enabled device that covers most bases for most people would be the Apple TV. Through the Apple TV you can push movies, music, and mirror your display all in one ridiculously small box.

The Apple TV is a fairly capable, tiny device with an even tinier price.

The Apple TV is a fairly capable, tiny device with an even tinier price.

Unfortunately, your $99 doesn’t get you all that much. The Apple TV requires that you have a TV with HDMI input, unless you want to purchase a separate dongle to get the box working with an older TV. There are no speakers built into the Apple TV, meaning that it has to be attached to a separate TV set to play music.

If you already have a TV set with HDMI input (which most people do) then the Apple TV is a stylish, functional device that can appeal to nearly everyone. At $99 it’s also a fairly cheap option, especially for all that it can do.

Music

Jawbone Jambox

The iPad’s built-in speaker isn’t too shabby, but there’s no way that it can fill a large (or small) room. Music nuts will want to get the best possible sound, and unfortunately the iPad’s speaker isn’t up to the task, especially at high volume. Fortunately, there are several options for the iPad-owning audiophile.

Jawbone's Jambox, a portable speaker with a lot of kick.

Jawbone's Jambox, a portable speaker with a lot of kick.

My favorite is the Jambox Smartspeaker from Jawbone, a company that makes stylish electronic devices at affordable prices. The Jambox is tiny (small enough to fit in a purse) but has a huge amont of sound, able to fill a room with your favorite music or amplify the soundtrack to the film you’re watching.

The Jambox is only $199.99 and comes in four different colors, meaning it can fit into whatever decoration plan you have going on in your home.

Rdio

Rdio, my favorite music service, also supports AirPlay. With a huge catalog of songs and an excellent interface, Rdio makes it easy to play everyone’s favorite songs. By combining Rdio with the Jambox, the iPad can easily become the center of any party. With what seems like all the music in your hands, it would be next to impossible for you to hold on to your iPad as everyone clamors to see if they can decide what to play next.

Rdio costs $10 a month, which is a small price to pay for the amount of music that you have access to.

Video

TED: Ideas Worth Spreading


One of my favorite video series comes from TED, a series of fast and focused talks about technology, life, the future, anything. TED speakers are usually the best in their field, and they all give excellent talks on a variety of subjects. With the ability to save talks for offline viewing and with AirPlay enabled, TED will let your iPad owner get inspired and educated whenever the mood suits them.

 

Crackle


Crackle gives you access to a bunch of TV shows and movies from Sony. You have to watch ads every once in a while, but besides that the app works well and has a decent library. The ability to watch these videos on your iPad or on your TV via your iPad is too good to pass up because of a few ads.

 

 

Games

Some of the best games coming out are taking advantage of the AirPlay feature to take their games from the small(ish) screen in your hands to the huge screen in your living room. This is being explored further and further each day, and I expect to see some fantastic development in this space with the coming months.

Real Racing 2 HD

Real Racing 2 has a bunch of features that take advantage of the iPad, iPhone, and AirPlay.

Real Racing 2 has a bunch of features that take advantage of the iPad, iPhone, and AirPlay.

The pioneer of AirPlay-enabled games, Real Racing 2 allows you to connect your iPad and Apple TV and then use your iPad as a controller for the race happening on the big screen. You can also use the iPad as a central ‘hub’ of sorts, allowing you to play with your friends that have iPhones or iPod Touch models on the same screen. For $6.99, this game gives you a lot of functionality for only a small amount of money.

Modern Combat 3


Look, we get it. Your friends like Call of Duty. You can spend $60 to play that game on your console, or you can spend $6.99 (this seems to be the sweet spot for games) and play a comparable game with your iPad or iPhone.

As I said, I expect this space to really fill out in the coming months. With an Apple TV connected to your TV and an iPad in your hand (or simply in the room) you can turn your iPad and iPhone into a true gaming console.

Conclusion

Hopefully this gave you some ideas. By taking advantage of some breakthrough technology, you can finally get something for that person who just had to buy themselves an iPad right before the holidays.

Do you have some other AirPlay enabled devices or apps that you think others will enjoy? We’d love to hear about them in the comments if you do, so help each other out and make shopping for your loves ones (or for yourself, we won’t judge) that much easier this holiday season.


  • Richard

    Remember that ipad mirroring only works with the IPad 2. I unfortunately have an IPad 1 .

  • solublepeter

    This is a bit misleading as the Jambox featured is a Bluetooth speaker, it doesn’t use AirPlay.

    Therefore you can only send sound to the speaker within a 30 foot radius, and can’t play music to several devices at once from iTunes on PC or Mac, as Airplay can.

    On the other hand it doesn’t need a wireless network in place at your location.

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