Apple’s AirPlay Arrives on Android: DoubleTwist

Android smartphones and tablets can now stream music, videos and photos to AppleTV over Wi-Fi using the doubleTwist application. The software is already known as an iTunes alternative for Android (s goog) devices due to its ability to sync media libraries. While doubleTwist is free, the streaming functionality is part of the $4.99 upgrade called doubleTwist AirSync. The latest update of the paid app adds support for Apple’s AirPlay: the wireless method used to stream media from Apple mobile devices to either Mac computers or an AppleTV connected to an HDTV.

Prior to the most recent software update, doubleTwist AirSync could already stream media over Wi-Fi, but not to Apple devices. Instead, the software enabled Android devices to pipe music and video to either Microsoft’s Xbox 360 (s msft) or Sony’s PlayStation 3 (s sne) gaming consoles. In a recent video, I demonstrated how this worked by streaming video and music from a Samsung Galaxy Tab to my HDTV and Xbox 360. After updating my doubleTwist software this morning, I tested the Wi-Fi streaming to the same television, but this time through the AppleTV.

The application works as advertised and was simple to configure, as it only required one checkbox to enable the AirPlay streaming. Just like on my iPad 2, tapping a single button during music or video playback shoots media content to the AppleTV. Both the Android device and AppleTV must be on the same Wi-Fi network for the process to work. Video playback is smooth, and the sound quality of music files is quite good — no different from what I can tell when using an iPad or iPod touch. I did notice album art didn’t appear in my testing, which could either be a glitch on my system or functionality not yet supported by doubleTwist.

While Apple’s AirPlay is a proprietary protocol, the company does license its use for third-party applications and non-Apple hardware such as external speakers. Unless the doubleTwist folks reverse engineered the protocol — company founder Jon Lech Johansen is famous for cracking the encryption on DVDs and Apple’s FairPlay — doubleTwist users shouldn’t fear that Apple can “break” the functionality in the future. And while doubleTwist itself still shows some odd nuances and room for improvement, the software continues to get better as a more complete “iTunes for Android” solution.