Probably the most under-appreciated product Apple has ever made is its AirPort Express. This humble device lets you play music from a wide range of AirPlay-enabled iOS apps on your stereo, where they sound good, without running wires through your living space.
It rules — and so does its younger cousin, Apple TV, which adds the ability to stream video to your television. And now, sound systems and speakers are starting to come with AirPlay, so you don’t even need to buy extra hardware to use it.
The thing is, both of these otherwise-awesome pieces of hardware are hobbled by Apple’s control freak tendencies.
Apple’s own iTunes works great with AirPlay, of course. But if you’re listening to Spotify on your laptop using your headphones and decide you’d rather listen over your speakers, you have to switch to the mobile version of Spotify in order to do so. It has AirPlay but the desktop version does not. The only way to play Spotify on your AirPlay-enabled speakers is sort of kluge-y: Buy Airfoil for $25. But some (and not just the interviewee below) say Airfoil’s use of Flash degrades audio quality.
MOG’s free Mac App solves this problem, for Mac users anyway (Windows version coming soon — more below). Unlike any other desktop music app we can think of, it’s capable of sending audio to AirPlay from a desktop or laptop to AirPlay directly. We wondered how this came to be, so we asked MOG product director Stephen Garcia to explain.
Eliot Van Buskirk, Evolver.fm: Was AirPlay the main reason for making a MOG Mac App? It seems to be the main advantage, or at least one of them.
Stephen Garcia, product director, MOG: No, users have been asking for a native app for a while… We thought AirPlay was a killer feature and wanted to make sure it was in the first release.
Evolver.fm: How hard was it to do? Is this something that any desktop software can do, or is something trickier going on?
Garcia: Details on this part of our technology are proprietary.
Evolver.fm: What prevents MOG from activating the same feature on its web player? Are browsers disallowed from AirPlay?
Garcia: The desktop client uses native playback to support AirPlay. We’re definitely exploring other options. Anything is possible.
Evolver.fm: A little bird tells me that the MOG desktop app sounds way better than running the web version through AirFoil. Do you know why this would be?
Garcia: It’s true! The desktop client uses the highest audio quality possible because it has native playback support and doesn’t rely on Flash.
Evolver.fm: Anything else to say on AirPlay? Is its usage on the rise among MOG users or anything, and if so, by how much?
Garcia: We’ve seen exciting growth and interest from our desktop application. We’ve got a 4.5 star rating in the Mac App Store and lots of great comments by happy customers. We’re the only subscription music service in the Mac App Store and the only product that offers native AirPlay support… The Windows Desktop app will be released to beta testers soon, and will also contain AirPlay support. AirPlay will be core to this product.