March 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm

How To Stream Any iOS Music App to AirPlay Speakers

If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPad Touch — and an AppleTV, AirPort Express or AirPlay-enabled system — you probably already know that you can play the music from any Apple AirPlay-enabled app (like Spotify or Pandora). All you need to do is tap the button within the app that looks like this:

apple airplay

Suddenly, the music from the app starts emanating from the nice speakers attached to your home entertainment system (with AppleTV) or sound system (with AirPort Express). This is one of our favorite features in iOS, and frankly, we wonder why Google hasn’t done something similar with Android (although it does work with AirPlay and DLNA).

AirPlay is clearly a great add-on, but using it relies on the app developer having included the above AirPlay button in their app — and not all of them do that. So, what is a music fan with an iPhone, iPad, or iPad Touch to do, after they have wisely purchased an Apple TV, AirPort Express, or standalone AirPlay sound system, when they want to play an app that lacks AirPlay?

Apple provided a way to do this, but it’s not easy to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. (Note: This only works for apps that play music, not the instrument-style ones that make music.)

1. Double-click the Home button on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

Click the round button on the front of your iOS device (pictured) twice.

This brings up a strip of app icons at the bottom of the screen:

2. Swipe the app strip twice, from left to right.

You can actually swipe either way, but going from left to right is probably faster (depending on how many apps you’re running). First, you’ll get to a screen that lets you fast-forward, rewind, or pause whatever music app is currently playing, which is pretty useful in its own right. Then you’ll get to this AirPlay control strip, where you can not only turn on AirPlay for all music player apps, but control their volume:

3. Select the AirPlay device you want to stream to.

In this example, we can see an AirPort Express called “living rhombus,” which plays in the living room, as well as an AppleTV that plays in the entertainment center. Pick whichever AirPlay-compatible hardware you want by tapping the AirPlay button, bringing up a menu like this:

Voila! Now that we’ve selected “living rhombus,” the music from any music player app on our iOS device plays on that stereo system over AirPlay — regardless of whether or not the developer has thought to include an AirPlay feature.

(Thanks to Kristofer Sommestad of SpotON Radio for bringing this to our attention during an interview at SXSW 2012: part one | part two.)

  • Jay Feinberg

    You can replicate the same wireless music listening experience with a Bluetooth connection and this Logitech product:

  • Valleke_007

    Great! I have my spotify of my iphone now connected to my speaker! does the same work for Spotify on my mac and if so, how????

  • Bondie

    Where to I find the Airplay Icon in Spotify on my MacBook Pro?

  • Craig Brandon

    Airplay does not work from a MacBook Pro or iMac. It only works from IOS devices.

  • Jesse

    It should be noted that audio AirPlay was designed without regard to interactive music apps, as the buffering latency is about 2 seconds. It works fine for streaming music, but pretty useless for instrument apps, etc. Doing screen (and thus audio) mirroring via AirPlay and an AppleTV has a more reasonable audio latency as it was designed with games in mind.

  • Philip Starner

    currently it is working in iTunes (lower right). I know I’ve done a few updates recently though.

  • Meg

    you’re the best!

  • AM

    Thank You so much. It works. Open ITunes,net to volume control is a rectangle with and arrow pointing up (blue in color). Click on it and it opens up, and acknowledge your Airport Express or what ever you called it and Your computer. Check both boxes, so they are enabled. Basically turned on. Go to your IPad, IPhone, ITouch, with Pandora opened, double click the round button on your IPad,IPhone,ITouch, and the bottom screen appears. Swipe left or right till you see the controls, like stop, fast forward, fast reverse. YOU will see the same rectangle with and arrow pointing up (blue in color). Click on it and you will see your Airport Express or whatever you network is naming it. Select it so a check mark is next to it. The check mark from your IPad will move to show Airport Express or whatever you called it on your network. Wait for it! Wait for it! Horray! Your Music will now be flowing from your IPad to your external speakers. If you buy another Airport Express and place it in another room with different speakers, and that Airport Express is added to your Network -Wirelessly. You now have the view of your other speakers in a different room. You can now have all the rooms playing music or just the one you checked on your IPad, by using that rectangle with and arrow pointing up (blue in color). Enjoy the Music…

  • Ruud van Gaal

    But how about sending audio to multiple Airport Express/Apple TV’s? It seems you can only select a single Airplay destination, not multiple such as is possible within iTunes. A reason why I don’t think the feature is finished yet.

  • AM

    I have connected airport express to my hi fi system through the headphone jack and it plays fine. Now I want to buy a wireless speaker for the kitchen and bathroom. Can I connect airport express to these speakers and if so, which ones are best? Thanks

  • MJ3

    Airplay works to multiple speakers from iTunes on my macbook. Wish it worked that way from my browser or from my iPhone.