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How to stream any music player app to AirPlay-enabled speakers

Streaming music to AirPlay-enabled speakers is easy--if the app's developer built it with that in mind. Here's how to do it with any app that plays music.

If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPad Touch--and an AppleTV, AirPort Express, or AirPlay-enabled system--you probably already know that you can play the music from any Apple AirPlay-enabled app (like Spotify or Pandora). All you need to do is tap the button within the app that looks like this:

AirPlay button

Suddenly, the music from the app starts emanating from the nice speakers attached to your home entertainment system (with AppleTV) or sound system (with AirPort Express). This is one of our favorite features in iOS, and frankly, we wonder why Google hasn't done something similar with Android (although it does work with AirPlay and DLNA).

AirPlay is clearly a great add-on, but using it relies on the app developer having included the above AirPlay button in their app--and not all of them do that. So, what is a music fan with an iPhone, iPad, or iPad Touch to do, after they have wisely purchased an Apple TV, AirPort Express, or standalone AirPlay sound system, when they want to play an app that lacks AirPlay?

Apple provided a way to do this, but it's not easy to find if you don't know what you're looking for. (Note: This only works for apps that play music, not the instrument-style ones that make music.)

1. Double-click the Home button on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

This brings up a strip of app icons at the bottom of the screen:

Icon strip

2. Swipe the app strip twice, from left to right.

You can actually swipe either way, but going from left to right is probably faster (depending on how many apps you're running). First, you'll get to a screen that lets you fast-forward, rewind, or pause whatever music app is currently playing, which is pretty useful in its own right. Then you'll get to this AirPlay control strip, where you can not only turn on AirPlay for all music player apps, but control their volume:

AirPlay control

3. Select the AirPlay device you want to stream to.

In this example, we can see an AirPort Express called "living rhombus," which plays in the living room, as well as an Apple TV that plays in the entertainment center. Pick whichever AirPlay-compatible hardware you want by tapping the AirPlay button, bringing up a menu like this:

AirPlay chooser

Voila! Now that we've selected "living rhombus," the music from any music player app on our iOS device plays on that stereo system over AirPlay--regardless of whether or not the developer has thought to include an AirPlay feature.