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Being in the post-PC world is fantastic: you can easily carry your information with you in easy-to-handle devices, like iPhones and iPads, and if the need arises, you can wirelessly transmit that information to your widescreen TV via AirPlay--as long as that TV’s connected to an Apple TV. I don’t know about you, but that’s one heck of a frustrating limitation.
What’s so special about Apple TV that it’s the sole gatekeeper to this amazing AirPlay technology? What if you wanted to watch a film stored on your iPod touch on your friend’s iMac? Or what if you’d decided to forgo the Apple TV and were using a Mac mini as your media center instead? In both cases, you’d be out of luck. Unless you got your hands on AirServer.
AirServer is so easy to use, we wonder why Apple didn’t implement it themselves. The single-user license lets you install the app on up to five Macs, and then all you have to do is launch it. The Mac needs Tiger (OS 10.4) or later, the iOS device requires iOS 4.2.1 or later, and they have to be on the same Wi-Fi network.
You can activate AirPlay in a number of ways, the quickest being a double-click on the Home button and swiping the row of icons at the bottom from left to right once (for the iPad) or twice (for an iPhone or iPod touch) to reveal the AirPlay icon. Tap it, select your Mac from the available options, and that’s it.
AirServer lets you play your music through your Mac’s superior speakers, and check out photos and videos on your Mac’s larger screen. Plus, if your Mac is running Snow Leopard (10.6) or Lion (10.7) and you have an iPhone 4S, iPad 2, or new iPad, you can enable Mirroring, which means that whatever you see on your iOS device will be shown on the Mac’s display in real time. Your home screens will appear, either in landscape or portrait depending on your device’s current orientation, and you can launch any app and see it on the larger screen. Even complex games work great, without hardly skipping a beat.
The bottom line. If you don’t own an Apple TV, but you want to take advantage of AirPlay on your Mac, this is the app to get.
Mac OS 10.4 or later, iTunes 9.2 (audio only) or 10.2 (audio and video) or later.
Incredibly easy to use. No setup required. Works flawlessly with iOS app or media.
Odd glitches occasionally, but try again and it works. Mirroring needs an iPhone 4S, iPad 2, or later.