AirPlay is a great feature that you can use if you own an iOS device and the Apple TV, and with the introduction of iOS7 it seems that AirPlay received a new role, so now you can easily exchange files between multiple iOS devices. It has been a while since AirPlay was first introduced, and even though there’s a great potential behind it, Apple decided to slowly unlock all of its features and not to rush in exploring all of its capabilities. This is the main reason why some 3rd party developers worked on their own alternatives to AirPlay, so that you can send files and stream content via protocols that are not available in the original AirPlay setup.
In this article we are going to take a look at one of those 3rd party solutions, which is designed to enable AirPlay between any iOS device and a Mac. This application is called AirServer, and it is priced at $15. This is not a new application, since it has been around for a while, but the latest version is better and more capable than ever, which makes this application highly competitive on the market.
With many applications which act as utilities which enable certain protocols, you can expect somewhat complicated setup. I am happy to say that this is not the case with AirServer, and all you have to do is to drag-and-drop its icon into your Applications folder. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Once you open it for the first time you’ll get to see its menu bar icon, from where you can fully control this application. In order to view its settings you’ll need to use AirServer’s System Preferences pane, where you do some further optimization and fine-tuning.
One of the first things that I check when it comes to applications like this one is how secure their connection and protocols are. In other words, I check if they create a completely open connections, and if there are some security measures that you can use. With AirServer you can choose to set a master password for a specific device, so you can block unauthorized access. You can also use a custom-made passcode which needs to be entered each time you access AirServer. This looks like the Bluetooh pairing, since it gives you a four-digit code that needs to be entered on your iOS device.
When it comes to functionality and performance, I need to say that I was very surprised. I’ve tried audio and video streaming, as well as screen mirroring, and performance was similar to Apple TV’s native performance. When it comes to audio streaming, you can even play lossless audio via separate AirPlay receiver. Video streaming and mirroring come with a small lag, but this is something you can expect even from Apple’s own Apple TV. This way you can use your Mac for playing iOS games, viewing maps, surfing the web, and anything else that you can normally do with your iOS device.
AirServer is not just a fun small application that allows you to play iOS games on a large screen, but can be used in education and business as well. It can also turn your large screen iMac into a full featured home entertainment hub, so there’ some serious potential behind it.