AirPlay Opens Up a World of Media Possibilities

Now that the dust has settled on last week’s Apple announcements I think one product announcement deserves a second look. Apple AirPlay is the successor to AirTunes which let you broadcast music over WiFi to speakers plugged into an AirPort Express or AppleTV. AirPlay promises to take that a step further. Now you will be able to stream video and pictures from iTunes and iOS devices. This is pretty cool because you can imagine sitting in the living room and wanting to share some picture. Now you can just send your pictures to your AppleTV right from your iPhone. That all sounded like a nice tidy evolution of the product. It still would require that I have an AppleTV already plugged into my TV.

Then everything changed. I saw an article that iHome was coming out with a clock radio that supports AirPlay. This was followed up by a couple more announcements from the likes of Denon and JBL who have products waiting to take advantage of this new technology. These partners have licensed the technology from Apple and included it in their products. This means that you will be able to send music to your home stereo without plugging it in. My wish is that Apple take this to the next level. They should license the technology to as many partners as possible both on the send and the receiver side of the conversation. It should become the standard for ad hoc media transmission. I see this as one reason Kindle and NetFlix are doing so well because they have moved their services beyond their own hardware. This will be a hard thing for Apple to do. I think this will move us one step closer to the Minority Report where I can take something from my iPad and just throw it up on a nearby TV set. I’m hoping this technology becomes common in TVs and car stereos.

Ping and the Family iTunes Account

I see one big problem with Ping: it is based on the Apple ID. Currently, my family shares one Apple ID and iTunes account. This makes the Home Sharing functionality in iTunes actually work. Ping is much more personal. It makes music recommendations based on your listening. Apple needs to rework its Apple ID model to allow master and child accounts. Doing that today creates an unworkable federation of Apple IDs.