When I got the email from Digiarty Inc./MacXDVD about this new streaming program and app, I have to admit I didn’t pay it much attention. I mean, really, how many ways to stream audio and video do we need? Apparently there is room for one more, especially one this good.
First let me tell you what this program is for. It is to stream the media on your computer thru to your handheld devices. Not to be confused with Airplay – Apple’s way to do the opposite which streams from your devices to your stereo or tv.
A small download for both the server program (10.7 meg) and the iPhone app (2.6 meg). The server interface is clean, easy to understand and responsive as well as having icons large enough to be able to make out what they are. (check it out here) (note: Small icons are a peeve of mine. I hate having to try and guess what they represent, but that’s another story). It’s available for Mac OS X (Leopard, Snow Leopard & Lion) and for Windows (XP, 2000, Vista & Win7)
The iPhone app (which also works for iPod) is also free (you can check it out here). According to my contact, the iPad app is under review and should be out any day. There is no Android “app” nor Windows Mobile “app” yet, but they are coming soon according to the developer, and should be released shortly after the iPad version is online.
Setup and use is pretty straight forward. Install the app (or program if you prefer – those terms are interchangeable of late) on your “server” and your idevice, and then follow the simple setup to determine what files you want to share, and with whom.
The registration of the program fills in a license code for you (at least for now, not sure how long this program will be free, or if there will be unlocked additional features in a Pro version later)
You set up your server with a name that makes sense to you (typically your mac’s name so you know where the files are coming from in case you are setting up sharing from more than one source. Then tell it which files you want to share and also, who gets to see what files. This is where this program shines. Different group settings.
You get “Admin”, “Kids” and “Public”. So you can decide who gets to see or hear what videos or music. In case you are wanting to share some age restricted material and don’t want your kids watching your vampire-soft-porn (aka True Blood) for instance, or some music with explicit lyrics.
Simply browse and select the media you want to share and click which group you want to share with.
As you can see from the “sharing folder” you can turn on and off certain folders, and change the permissions for each as well. Even after the setup of the shares.
Starting and stopping the service is dead simple as well and always available at the top of the program window as well as in the menu bar. The menubar icon is very clear and easy to understand and gives you quick access to your media and the Air Playit preferences.
The iPhone app is nice and simple, without a lot of setup or settings to worry about. Start it up, find your server and connect. Connecting with WiFi couldn’t be easier, and the listing of shared media is also clear and concise with videos getting thumbnails – albeit at that size its a little tough to make out what they are. Maybe the iPad app will be clearer in that respect.
High-speed scrubbing thru the media as it plays works well, at least over wi-fi. It’s not instantaneous but a slight delay while it rebuffers is acceptable in my opinion.
(I have to admit I haven’t had a chance to setup and test the 3G connection speed and use – that’s something i’m hoping to look into a little later after the various versions of this app are out in the world)
One thing that i’m not crazy about is the fact it seems to download the songs you play to your iPhone automatically – presumably for ease and speed of replaying them, but i’m not seeing an easy way to turn that feature off. You have to go into the media you have downloaded in the app and remove them, either manually choosing which ones, or removing all. (see the screenshot below)
Summing up, If you are looking for a way to just stream your media to your device, then this is a great, simple and free way to do it.
Remember, this is the first release of the program and app and its bound to be getting tweaks and updates in the near future, but I think it has good structure and bones, so to speak, and can only get better.
I can only hope the iPad version and the Android version once they are released are just as good. I’m sure i’ll be checking into them as soon as they make it thru the review process and will let you know in the near future once i’ve had a chance to play with them, as well as how the other features of this program work under a more vigorous and lengthy testing.
UPDATE: just got word from the developer that the iPad version is in the Apple iTunes Store today. you can find it here for more info. I haven’t had a chance to play with it since I don’t as of yet have an iPad disposal, so i’d be keen to know what those of you that do think of it.