When it comes to solutions for streaming media between your devices, Apple is starting to lose its advantage.
Android may be superior to iOS when it comes to power user features, but as far as streaming media goes, iPhones and iPads are still king. This is thanks to two functions in particular: AirPlay, which is an Apple technology that lets users stream content on their iDevices to a compatible player (such as Apple TV or an AirPlay-compatible speaker dock); and Air Video, which is a third party program that enables you to stream and convert videos stored on your desktop computer to an iPhone or iPad.
Of course, this advantage was only good until someone figured out how to port it to other smartphone platforms. Android users can now take advantage of these technologies with the third party apps doubleTwist AirSync and Mirage. doubleTwist Airsync is the paid version of the popular doubleTwist media player, and allows you to stream photos, music and videos stored on your Android smartphone over a wireless network to AirPlay-enabled devices, as well as to an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 (and it also enables wireless media syncing with iTunes and the desktop version of doubleTwist - but that’s fodder for another how-to).
Mirage, on the other hand, works in the opposite direction, and interacts with the free Air Video server app (compatible with PC and Mac) for streaming movies to compatible Android smartphones over Wi-Fi from your home computer.
We’ll start with getting doubleTwist AirSync and an AirPlay-enabled device (in this case, Apple TV) talking. Install both doubleTwist and doubleTwist AirSync on your Android smartphone and connect it to your home wireless network (your smartphone and Apple TV will need to be on the same wireless network for this to work). Next, open doubleTwist, press ‘Menu’ and tap on ‘Settings’, then ‘AirTwist & AirPlay’ to configure the connection. Tick the ‘AirTwist & AirPlay’ checkbox, and you should see the name of your wireless network under the ‘AirTwist is enabled for these Wi-Fi networks’ setting. If not, tap the ‘Allow Wi-Fi network’ setting to activate the wireless network your smartphone is currently connected to for AirTwist.
To start playing media on your smartphone through the AppleTV, open it first in doubleTwist, tap on the screen to bring up the playback controls, then tap on the AirTwist icon in the bottom right-hand corner. An option will appear to connect to AppleTV (or whichever AirPlay-enabled device you’ve set up), and once this is selected, the currently playing media will output to your TV.
Unfortunately, Mirage, the third party app that works with Air Video, doesn’t yet support streaming video over 3G (a feature that’s available in the iOS Air Video client app), so Android users are currently limited to streaming video from a home computer that’s connected to the same wireless network as the Android smartphone or tablet. Another, more serious limitation is that it’s only compatible with Android devices that use Neon- or Tegra-based processors, which essentially rules out all but the very latest smartphones and tablets.
Provided your Android device is supported, setting up the live video streaming is relatively easy. Download the free Air Video server software
, then download the Mirage client software from Android Market.
In the Air Video server software, you can configure the folders that the app looks in for videos to stream, and this can include external hard drives. Once that’s done, open Mirage, click the ‘Menu’ button, tap ‘Servers’, and it should auto-detect your computer that’s running the Air Video server software. From there, it’s a simple case of navigating to the video you want to stream to your device.