If you use a Mac as your media hub and aren’t interested in getting a Apple TV but you would like to use AirPlay you may want to try Banana TV. Once you download and install Banana TV, it will appear in your menu bar. Banana TV uses the AirPlay protocol to allow you to stream AirPlay enable videos or images from your mobile device including your iPad (1 or 2), iPhone or iPod Touch running OS 4.2 or higher to an [Intel Mac]. I really like to use it when I am reading my RSS feeds in the River of News or perhaps I am looking through Flipboard and come across a YouTube video I want to watch. Instead of stopping to watch it on my iPad, I can send it to my computer monitor and continue to read the article while it is playing. (You do have to stay on the same page within the app that the video is on.) Maybe I am looking through the Discovery Application and I want to show my husband the video I am looking at, instead of passing the iPad to him I can simply send it to the TV the Mac is connected to.
Banana TV does have a couple of limitations that the using AirPlay with Apple TV does not have. It will not play videos that are encoded with DRM that are not authorize. It also doesn’t play slide shows; you have to hit the play button for each new image and then it flickers and the next image appears. When playing videos you have the option to play them either with in the Banana TV or through QuickTime. When you first install Banana TV it has always open in QuickTime as the default method under preferences, I found it works better if that is disabled. On occasion the video would not play and I would see a blank screen, usually restarting the video fixes that problem. I have only been using Banana TV for a short time, but so far I like it. It is $7.99 and can be found at Banana TV.
IOS 4.3 is now available for download through iTunes . One of the things that came with the update was enhanced AirPlay. Which not only allows you to play iPad videos on your Apple TV as it did before, but it now also allows you to share your Itunes library including videos to your iPad, iPhone (3GS and 4) and iPod Touch. One of the coolest new features is the enhanced Airplay. Prior to this you could send video from your iPad to a T.V. that is connected to an Apple TV. The enhancement is now you can share your Itunes library on your iPad. To get this to work there are a couple of things that you will need to do. First turn on sharing in iTunes. To do this go to the Advanced tab and turn on Home Sharing. At this point you will need to enter your Apple ID and password. Then under Preference and the Sharing tab you can decide what you want to share. You can choose you whole library, just specific playlist or only certain types of media. You can also add a password, to limit the sharing to only those you give the password to. While you are in iTunes you may also want to check to make sure that what you are sharing can be played on your portable device. iPad can play H.264 MPEG4 and Motion JPEG video. For video I use Handbrake to do the conversion. You will also need to have VLC installed for this to work. The iPad can handle ACC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF and Wave audio files. Itunes itself is good and converting audio files.
Once you have everything set up on your computer, you are ready to set things up on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. On your portable device go into Settings the iPod fill in your Apple ID and password and you are set. Now when you open up the ipod app if you tap on Library at the top you should see My iPad and your shared library. Tap on your shared library and it will show up on your iPad. As it is working you will see a little circle fill up. One of the things that confused me for a minute was that I wasn’t seeing any of my movies or TV shows in my iPod application. Then I realized there is a separate app on the iPad called Video, that is where all the video files were. Although video podcast do show up in the iPod application.
There are a couple of things that I did notice at this point. First it takes some time to load all the videos screenshots. The second thing I noticed and its definitely a bug is sometimes if you have the Info button highlighted and you hit play an error message will pop up and “Says Can Not Play Movie.” Then in the same movie if you have the chapter bar highlighted and hit play it works fine. I am sure this is a temporary problem and will be fixed quickly. However if you are having trouble playing videos you may want to try that, until Apple gets a fix out. Once the video start to play they look and play fine. For someone like me with a 16 GB iPad being able to keep your videos on your computer or a network hard drive and play them on the iPad is a great solution.
In my book Podcasting The Do it Your Self Guide I talk about a day when we will be listening or watching a program while making breakfast and as we leave for work the media would follow us into a device in our pocket or in our car. I probably should have applied for a patent on that idea back in 2005 as it may have came in handy today now that Apple has introduced Airplay.
What Apple is introducing with Airplay is pretty slick, your watching a video, listening to music etc on your iPhone or iPad and you want to start watching that on your Apple TV all you do is click the AirPlay logo, select the device and bam it transfers to the other device. I love the idea that my media moves with me. This is brilliant if I should say so myself.
When I was out at Ford talking with the team there I expressed my desire for such a feature to be built into Ford Sync. I am hoping now that this has been introduced that other companies jump on the bandwagon. It is definitively something that a lot of us are going to want. I want a 24/7 plugged in world to apply to all of my devices and if Apple makes it easier to use them all together then they are going to retain my business for a long time.
Even if you do not have a iPad, iPhone or have ordered a Apple TV you cannot help but be excited about what they are doing with this aspect of the new Apple TV.