AirPlay, among a vast jungle of other features, has been implemented by Apple in nearly all of its products in some way, shape, or form. However, it did not implement it in the fairest manner possible. In other words, Apple was not acting as an equal opportunity AirPlay implementer.
The iOS line is, without a doubt, the crème de la crème when it comes to AirPlay equipped devices. These puppies can push out just about every sound, from virtually any application to an AirPlay-equipped device, whether that be an Apple TV or a set of speakers hooked up to an Airport.
Macs got the short end of the stick featuring just one Airplay-enabled application: iTunes. What about YouTube videos, Hulu, and Google Music? Currently, Snow Leopard does not offer users a way of streaming audio from applications aside from iTunes to AirPlay speakers.
AirFoil is an application that fixes this inequality. It brings AirPlay support system-wide on Macs thereby allowing users to use the TV’s speakers for sound through Apple TV, or, in my case, my Airport’s Swan M10s.
The application itself is rather simple, yet, at the same time, could be loads more simple. That may sound a bit oxymoronic, but let me explain.
AirFoil comes in three parts: AirFoil, AirFoil Video Player, and AirFoil Speakers. AirFoil allows for any application to run its audio through an AirPlay-equipped speaker. AirFoil Video Player allows for media (files and web videos like YouTube and Hulu) to be played at a delay so that both the speakers and the video match. AirFoil Speakers, among other features, turns the Mac into an AirPlay speaker itself.
Having three parts to an application is confusing by any means, but it does not have to be this way; the features of the three pieces could easily be turned into a single window application with adjoined features. Moving between three applications to make use of the application, to me, is a bit much.
Listing all of its features would be tough as there are so many, but I’ll explain how I use AirFoil.
My MacBook has no speakers attached. At most times of the day, it has nothing connected to it aside from a power cord. My speakers are sitting directly beside my computer, though they are connected to an AirPort Express, allowing me to run my iPad and iPhone’s audio through them as well as my Mac’s. Plus, this allows me to walk away from the desk with my computer and still be able to play sound through my speakers.
Unfortunately, due to Snow Leopard’s lack of AirPlay support, the speakers used to be limited to iTunes audio from my MacBook. Now, with AirFoil, I can watch DVDs, NetFlix, Hulu, and YouTube with the superior sound of my Swans without having to connect any wires which is extremely useful, and dare I say fantastic.
In the end, AirFoil offers consumers an arsenal of AirPlay-related features at a very low price ($25), and for that, I completely recommend it. The design could use a change, but it isn’t a deal breaker, not for me at least. Check it out here and give the demo a try. AirFoil gets a 4/5.