AirPlay

  • 1 September 2010
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209 replies

I would also be highly surprised if Apple doesn't release an update which blocks this anyway. That's that they have done with iTunes and iPods: every time someone has worked out how to get the iPod working with some other software, they have released an update which closes it back down.

This, by the way, is why I don't buy Apple products. Even if I didn't find iTunes to be an appalling piece of software (which I do), and even if I didn't think iTunes is a complete rip-off of a content store (which I do), I wouldn't be happy to be trapped into using either of them just because the vendor I had graced with my business wants to milk some more from me. No thank-you very much!

but, back to the topic...

Imagine the furore if Sonos released an unofficial software Airplay capability, when Apple released a "security fix" upgrade and stopped working suddenly.

I'm sorry, but the only way there will be native and direct Airplay support on Sonos is if they licence it. Currently this requires them to use the licensed chipset, which means it requires new hardware. It's cloud cuckoo-land to believe there is any other option until Apple loosen their licensing restrictions.

Cheers,

Keith
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Well, of course there is a probability that they might block it, but that would involve the following:

Every chip that has been distributed must be replaced or reflashed.

Every Airport express/extreme must be upgraded in order to work with the latest version of iTunes and/or ipod/iphone/ipad (this is not automatic).

Airfoil has been working for the past 4-5 years without intervention from Apple that forced them to shut down. Obviously they haven't emulated the destination device, only the source device (aka, iTunes) so it was somehow in favour for the Apple products in general.

If Sonos would implement a "plugin"-based system that would allow 3rd party extensions to be installed, this would be outside of Sonos jurisdiction. That would be awesome, however I do understand that it is highly unlikely (although I want to bring up the idea :)

Anyway, it's gonna be interesting what will happen to software like http://bananatv.net/ and http://www.airserverapp.com/, because they are likely to violate Apple terms.

Cheers, Jimmy
Well, of course there is a probability that they might block it, but that would involve the following:

Every chip that has been distributed must be replaced or reflashed.

Every Airport express/extreme must be upgraded in order to work with the latest version of iTunes and/or ipod/iphone/ipad (this is not automatic).


This is entirely possible. It's not going to happen overnight, but it could be pushed out over several months. All of the Airplay devices (including the 3rd party ones like B&W) are firmware upgradeable. Apple could push a change in keys (or even a security fix) into a future IOS upgrade, and then force people who upgrade to the latest IOS to also upgrade their AEs and other Airplay devices to be compatible.

They have done this with iTunes and iPods several times in the past.

Airfoil has been working for the past 4-5 years without intervention from Apple that forced them to shut down.


The big difference here is that (so far) Apple hasn't tried to prevent users from using the DAAP streaming interface. As you suggest, it wasn't in their interest. They have, however, shut down and encrypted the equivalent interfaces that allows content to be pulled from iTunes. Now it will only work with Apple products.

Nipping unlicensed use of Airplay IS in their interest as they have stated that they see Airplay as a massive licensing cash-cow. If commercial 3rd-parties find a loophole that lets them use Airplay without licensing or additional hardware, that cash-cow is well on its way to the slaughter house.

Do you really think Apple will let this happen?

Do you really think Apple hadn't considered this eventuality and make provisions to deal with it if it occurred.

If Sonos would implement a "plugin"-based system that would allow 3rd party extensions to be installed, this would be outside of Sonos jurisdiction


Not required. If some third-party with development skills wants to do this, they can. It would need to be done using a proxy box, such as a PC or Linux system, but it's perfectly possible to do this now.

The way you would do it is to develop an app, based on shairport, that acts as an Airplay receiver with multiple endpoints (so it looks, to an Airplay sender, like multiple Airplay devices). It then proxies this stream to the associated Sonos zone using standard UPnP.

I'm sure there are some "gotchas" and it's certainly not trivial, but I'm sure it's possible.

Cheers,

Keith
Messing with encryption keys is obvious "circumvention" of protection schemes and leads to a fairly clear path into court. While it may be impractial for Apple to pursue every individual who tinkers, a commercial entity, such as SONOS, is another matter. SONOS would be accused of providing "enabling" technology.

I don't think that this sort of suit has been fully tested in court, but the participants should be prepared to spend a few hundred million dollars to follow this path to the end.
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I understand the legal implications, and I can see why Sonos don't want to go that way.

I have a few questions which might not be suitable here, but feel free to move this into it's own thread in that case:

Sonos supports Apple lossless if I understood it correct. Will it support it even on a stream? (radio, http streaming)

Is it possible to "push" a stream to a sonos zone, meaning start playing a zone using uPnP actions with autostart, and when the stream ends (socket closed) it will continue on it's regular playlist?

That way it would be possible to have a proxy software that would broadcast all the zones as airplay devices, and upon receiving audio, switch the selected zone into airplay mode, much like Majik suggested. No need for user interaction would be utterly awesome.

Regards, Jimmy

Sonos supports Apple lossless if I understood it correct. Will it support it even on a stream? (radio, http streaming)


Actually I don't know 100%. There's a limited set of protocols that Sonos supports for things like radio streams, but in my experience if you embed a streaming URL in a M3U or PLS playlist, Sonos will play it if it's one of the standard supported formats. I've not tried ALAC, although I would be sort of surprised if it didn't support it.

Is it possible to "push" a stream to a sonos zone, meaning start playing a zone using uPnP actions with autostart, and when the stream ends (socket closed) it will continue on it's regular playlist?


The former, yes. The latter, probably although it would take a little work. I don't see why it couldn't be done.

That way it would be possible to have a proxy software that would broadcast all the zones as airplay devices, and upon receiving audio, switch the selected zone into airplay mode, much like Majik suggested. No need for user interaction would be utterly awesome.


Indeed, although I don't necessarily see that switching back to the original queue is a necessity. "All" it needs is for someone to develop it.

Cheers,

Keith
Userlevel 2
I see all these hardware, speakers aso. that support Airplay directly by showing up on your network as a airplay speaker.
I would really like to see integrated airplay in the sonos system, without the airport express!?
Can't see why that shouldnt be possible.


btw, Sonos should signup with uservoice for feature requests and support!
I see all these hardware, speakers aso. that support Airplay directly by showing up on your network as a airplay speaker.
I would really like to see integrated airplay in the sonos system, without the airport express!?
Can't see why that shouldnt be possible.


btw, Sonos should signup with uservoice for feature requests and support!


Airplay requires additional licensing and hardware for integrated support. This would make all existing Sonos hardware incompatible, and increase the price of new hardware due to licensing, development, manufacturing changes and the cost of the Airplay chip.

There is a large thread on this already, including a feature request. Search thread titles for 'Airplay.'
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I got my first Sonos kit yesterday - an S5 and a BR100. I am very pleased with the whole thing.

I saw that the Sonos now supports AirPlay when attached to an Airport Express, one of which I also have. Since the Airport Express already supported AirPlay, and you still have to connect the Airport Express to the S5 using a 3.5mm audio jack, I'm left wondering what it is that has actually been added in the new software? I mean, I could already stream music from my iDevice to the Airport Extreme via AirPlay anyway.

Or am I missing something given I have a single speaker system?

Cheers

PeteyD

Or am I missing something given I have a single speaker system?


Quite possibly.

With an AirPort Express properly attached into any ZonePlayer, Sonos can rebroadcast that stream to any other ZonePlayer(s) in the system. Connected as the FAQ directs, the AirPlay stream has little to no dropouts (unlike previously)

For those with many Zones, they can direct the AirPlay music to any room (or rooms) desired - all in perfect sync.

I use the AE and AirPlay in this manner. Albeit, I rarely need to use it, as any of the household music is already on our NAS. It is, however, a cool 'toy' for guests with iDevices who want to "inflict" their music on us. Even better as a 'sales tool' for the Sonos system. :D

Best of Luck
I'm left wondering what it is that has actually been added in the new software?
They added a feature that stops the incessant forum posts from iFans complaining about the lack of AirPlay support.

I find it quite useful, tbh.
Userlevel 2
Quite possibly.

With an AirPort Express properly attached into any ZonePlayer, Sonos can rebroadcast that stream to any other ZonePlayer(s) in the system. Connected as the FAQ directs, the AirPlay stream has little to no dropouts (unlike previously)

For those with many Zones, they can direct the AirPlay music to any room (or rooms) desired - all in perfect sync.

I use the AE and AirPlay in this manner. Albeit, I rarely need to use it, as any of the household music is already on our NAS. It is, however, a cool 'toy' for guests with iDevices who want to "inflict" their music on us. Even better as a 'sales tool' for the Sonos system. :D

Best of Luck


Many thanks, if I can ever afford a second system, I'll look forward to that!
Userlevel 2
Airplay requires additional licensing and hardware for integrated support. This would make all existing Sonos hardware incompatible, and increase the price of new hardware due to licensing, development, manufacturing changes and the cost of the Airplay chip.

There is a large thread on this already, including a feature request. Search thread titles for 'Airplay.'


It is true that the only official way to add AirPlay support is to pay a license and use a chip that implements it. This would as you also point out require redesigning all the Sonos players.

However considering that Sonos support Apple's proprietary Apple Lossless audio format for which there is no official licensing scheme I have heard of but there is a reverse engineered open-source software for, perhaps Sonos could use the same approach to implement AirPlay. AirPlay has also been reverse engineered and open-source software provided to implement it (unofficially of course).
It is true that the only official way to add AirPlay support is to pay a license and use a chip that implements it. This would as you also point out require redesigning all the Sonos players.

However considering that Sonos support Apple's proprietary Apple Lossless audio format for which there is no official licensing scheme I have heard of but there is a reverse engineered open-source software for, perhaps Sonos could use the same approach to implement AirPlay. AirPlay has also been reverse engineered and open-source software provided to implement it (unofficially of course).


So Sonos, a legtimate company owned and operated in the US, should violate the DMCA (not to mention the WIPO Copyright and Performances and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act and the EU Copyright Directive) by circumventing Apple's proprietary encryption scheme using "unofficial" code?

Uhhh, can you say "LAWSUIT" (not to mention "PRISON TERM")?
I don't know if any patents are involved in AirPlay, but there would certainly be a squabble about misuse of a trademark if someone advertised "AirPlay" without first obtaining a license.

AirPlay has also been reverse engineered and open-source software provided to implement it (unofficially of course).


The big difference is that Apple Lossless isn't an encrypted format and doesn't seem to include any IPR. In fact it bears many technical similarities to FLAC so Apple would struggle to enforce any licensing or IPR claim on it.

Airplay is encrypted and includes considerable IPR as Apple have designed it with licensing in mind so as to be able to create a licensing windfall. Either of these alone cause problems. just breaking encryption is against the DMCA and can result in significant penalties. An individual may get away with it as part of a hack, but if Sonos adopted it it's asking for trouble.

In any case, Apple are likely to be able to tweak the encryption in future upgrades to make it more secure. This has happened with iPods, and third party music managers have suddenly been left unable to sync with iPods.

It would be a crazy, stupid thing for Sonos to do this.

I'll point out your "idea" isn't a new one. If you read the whole thread you'll see it has already been discussed and dismissed as unworkable at least once before.

Cheers,

Keith
Userlevel 2
The way I see it Apple should release an AirPlay enabled iDevice dock with 3,5mm audio out socket. This would bring AirPlay to Sonos (and any other home audio devices).

With the ability to sync iDevices wirelessly in iOS 5, this kind of dock would make perfect sence.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this, or some other kind of AirPlay dongle to be released alongside iOS 5 this fall.
The way I see it Apple should release an AirPlay enabled iDevice dock with 3,5mm audio out socket. This would bring AirPlay to Sonos (and any other home audio devices).

With the ability to sync iDevices wirelessly in iOS 5, this kind of dock would make perfect sence.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for this, or some other kind of AirPlay dongle to be released alongside iOS 5 this fall.


They have. It's called an Airport Express. There's no dock, but Airplay doesn't need a dock because any WiFi enabled iDevice can stream directly to Airplay.
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They have. It's called an Airport Express. There's no dock, but Airplay doesn't need a dock because any WiFi enabled iDevice can stream directly to Airplay.

You have a point, but I would still want a smaller, less bulky solution with the ability to charge my iDevices when needed.

I use AE today, but i would like to add more AirPlay access points to my Sonos to make it more flexible for multiple users at the same time. I really hope I can do this with a smarter setup than AE sometime soon.

Also I have experienced stability issues with AE, which makes me want to try something different.
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I don't think Apple would create such a device. Also, for Sonos to natively support Airplay will cost them $50-$100 for chip and licensing. The current AE is OK, but with the new Play:3's lack of a line-in jack, that strategy is limited. Personally, I'd rather see Sonos come out with a small device with optical line-in to support Airplay via AppleTV, which is going to have superior sound to AE.

As for your interest in having multiple users streaming different content to Airplay concurrently, I don't think that is possible according to what the CEO of Sonos is saying:

Interview...
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If Apple won't produce it, then someone else will. There seems to be a demand for something like this, at least if you look around the web.

Regarding multiple users streaming concurrently, this is no problem as long as they stream to to different airplay receivers. I have done this several times.

The problem mentioned in the interview is actually the opposite: streaming from one iDevice to multiple AirPlay speakers at the same time.
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@Knievel: iTunes have always supported to stream to multiple airplay devices at the same time, you just select multiple devices in iTunes. It would be kind of silly if the iOS devices didn't have the same functionality?

@jgatie: Why would an Apple TV have superior sound as opposed to a Airport Express? The Express has a combined 3,5 mm toslink/analog output, so you can still use it as a digital source.
@jgatie: Why would an Apple TV have superior sound as opposed to a Airport Express? The Express has a combined 3,5 mm toslink/analog output, so you can still use it as a digital source.

Uhh, I don't see where I commented on sound superiority in this thread, nor have I mentioned Apple TV. I think you have the wrong guy.
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Uhh, I don't see where I commented on sound superiority in this thread, nor have I mentioned Apple TV. I think you have the wrong guy.

Ah, sorry, I meant @RB_Seattle. My apologies!

Cheers, Jimmy
Userlevel 2
@Knievel: iTunes have always supported to stream to multiple airplay devices at the same time, you just select multiple devices in iTunes. It would be kind of silly if the iOS devices didn't have the same functionality?


Well it might be silly, but it is how it it is.
iOS does not support streaming to multiple AirPlay devices at the same time.
I am currently using iOS 5 Beta 5, and this is still not supported.
Hopefully there will be a fix soon, but I guess Mr Jobs don't see the point :roll eyes: