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MagicPlay: the Open Source AirPlay 177

Posted by Soulskill
from the does-not-involve-shivan-dragons dept.
New submitter JonLech writes "Ever since Apple launched AirTunes in 2004 (later renamed AirPlay) they have remained unchallenged in the Wi-Fi music streaming market. With various manufacturers releasing AirPlay-only Wi-Fi speakers, Android and other non-Apple device users have been left out in the cold. Today that changes with the release of MagicPlay, an open standard for music streaming (think 'HTTP for music') with a BSD-licensed open source reference implementation that any app developer or hardware manufacturer can integrate into their products. For the Linux fans out there, I've written up some instructions on how to turn your Raspberry Pi into a MagicPlay device."
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MagicPlay: the Open Source AirPlay

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  • its not news yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by viperidaenz (2515578) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @06:38PM (#44170991)

    If there isn't wide spread hardware adoption, its a useless 'standard'

    • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @07:12PM (#44171213) Homepage Journal

      You are implying that you would like hardware manufacturers to make a de-facto standard by selling devices first, and then open it up.

      This is the route AirPlay went so far, and where all vendor lock-in happens.

      A standard allows multiple parties to come together (hardware vendors, software devs, sellers) and have a common ground / interface, so everyone knows what they are talking about. So progress on spreading a open solution should be accelerated by defining a standard first.

      • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @07:19PM (#44171273)

        I'm implying that declaring "the new standard in xyz" is not news worthly unless it is actually picked up and implemented by more than a handful of irrelevant people who made a pretty website and metioned the Raspberry Pi.

        The summary goes on to talk about only being able to buy AirPlay speakers. Where can I buy MagicPlay speakers? Nowhere? thought so. Not really a standard then is it? It's not recognised by any standards institutes. It's just someones pet OSS project at the moment. Because its open, they're declaring it a standard.

        • Where can I buy MagicPlay speakers? ... Not really a standard then is it? It's not recognised by any standards institutes. It's just someones pet OSS project at the moment. Because its open, they're declaring it a standard.

          I think you can already use it if you have a media center setup (connected to speakers), and then stream from laptop & phone.

          • Why would you use AirPlay then, if you can just connect a macbook to everything and use plain old itunes?

        • by TigerTime (626140) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @07:59PM (#44171545)

          Slashdot.org is not a newsfeed for Pintrest and Best Buy shoppers. It's for technical people that are interest in geeky stuff that may or may be available at your local retailer yet.

          All standards come out long before actual products. 4K TV? 802.11ac? MiraCast? All these are technologies that are built on standards that have just been introduced in the last couple years. Yet people on here have been talking about them before products are actually introduced? Why? Because this is a fucking website geared toward shit like that.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @08:29PM (#44171759)

            But what good is knowledge if it is not wrapped in a consumer product!?

            Unbelievable.

            Does this attitude stem from the fact that "geek" now includes a vast swath of electronic entertainment consumers who have no interest in how things work under the hood? Or is it the impulse to piss on anyone who tries to do something that is not immediately amenable to generating profits?

          • Standards become standards when a group decides on it.
            802.11ac? That group was IEEE.
            4K TV? I guess that's covered under the HDMI supported resolutions.
            MiraCast? That would be the Wi-Fi Alliance.

          • Slashdot.org is not a newsfeed for Pintrest and Best Buy shoppers

            That might have been true a few years ago...

        • by MindPhlux (304416)

          this is idiotic

          you do know like basically most every network-enabled device also had firmware that is updatable right?

          I'm not saying it will actually happen, but saying that sony couldn't add support to all their receivers and TVs with a firmware update is silly.

        • by zieroh (307208) on Wednesday July 03, 2013 @12:02AM (#44172841)

          The summary goes on to talk about only being able to buy AirPlay speakers. Where can I buy MagicPlay speakers? Nowhere? thought so. Not really a standard then is it?

          Wow. I'm often critical of slashdot users for missing the forest for the trees, but rarely do I find slashdotters who are simultaneously as clueless, willfully ignorant, and aggressively obnoxious in a single post.

          Well done, sir. You're a complete and utter fucktard.

      • by bonehead (6382)

        A standard allows multiple parties to come together (hardware vendors, software devs, sellers) and have a common ground / interface, so everyone knows what they are talking about. So progress on spreading a open solution should be accelerated by defining a standard first.

        OK, let's write up the business plan. Pick an existing, successful, and widely implemented technology. Come up with an alternative.

        Approach a venture capitalist with your business plan that includes the phrases "and all the consumer has to do is buy a Raspberry Pi and roll their own homebrew adapter" and "will have a subset of the functionality of the existing, successful product".

        Let me know how big of a check they write you.

        • by smash (1351)
          Except that it's not even an alternative yet, as it doesn't do video...
          • by bonehead (6382)

            Right. I think I said something like:

            and "will have a subset of the functionality of the existing, successful product".

    • This is slashdot. It is supposed to be a site about up and coming technologies, not just about established technologies.

    • Turn in your geek card. This is /. It's News for Nerds (it's still in the title tag). BSD and streaming music over wifi is what this site is all about. Above all else, Slashdot is never ahead of the news.
    • If there isn't wide spread hardware adoption, its a useless 'standard'.

      And there won't be, as no hardware company would dare cross the Apple juggernaut. They would be punished by being frozen out of all future liscensing deals, if not by outright lawsuits,.

      And this is why practical monopoly is so destructive.

    • If there isn't wide spread hardware adoption, its a useless 'standard'

      Useless to mindless consumers, yes. It's only of interest to creative technical people who build things.

      I think "Ow! My Balls!" is on another channel.

  • While it's great an alternative to AirPlay had been released, I doubt it'll get much support from accessory manufacturers unless the likes of Samsung decide to integrate it with their phones.
    • While it's great an alternative to AirPlay had been released, I doubt it'll get much support from accessory manufacturers unless the likes of Samsung decide to integrate it with their phones.

      Right now Apple accessories that used to be *everywhere* are increasingly only seen as sad sale items, in those wire bins by the counter collecting discount stickers, after Apple shafted its customers with another proprietary connector...at least they get to give *more* money to Apple...and they do need it, avoiding paying any tax in the UK much of cost them a small fortune in..accountants.

      Accessory Manufacturers are desperate to tap into none apple products simply because they outnumber Apple products six

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @06:43PM (#44171027) Homepage

    If it's not compatible with AirPlay what's the point? My Linux music server already supports AirPlay, so does my MythTV, so does my iPhone. Why do we need yet a different new standard, especially if it doesn't work with existing devices?

    • Obligatory XKCD [xkcd.com].
    • by Qwavel (733416) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @06:56PM (#44171115)

      Um, because AirPlay is proprietary.

      There are people who's media world doesn't revolve around an iPhone. And while there are various stop gap measure for those users - including using AirPlay in unauthorized ways - it is still a proprietary protocol, and this is Apple so we know they will release the lawyers when the time comes.

      I actually find it remarkable that I should have to argue that an open standard that does something like AirPlay would be a good thing if it were done right and caught on.

      • by bonehead (6382) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @07:16PM (#44171249)

        Um, because AirPlay is proprietary.

        There are people who's media world doesn't revolve around an iPhone. And while there are various stop gap measure for those users - including using AirPlay in unauthorized ways - it is still a proprietary protocol, and this is Apple so we know they will release the lawyers when the time comes.

        I actually find it remarkable that I should have to argue that an open standard that does something like AirPlay would be a good thing if it were done right and caught on.

        You are 100% correct in everything you say. But he still has a point.

        Being Apple compatible is the "sexy" thing to do in the manufacturing world these days, and this is all rather useless if you can't go to Best Buy and pick up a device that supports it.

        Add to that the fact that there is an existing standard that can already do this stuff (UPnP/DLNA), and do it better. And those standards actually have some device support, although the implementations all seem like they were a quickly hacked together afterthought.

        That said, being outside of the Apple world, I have found that Plex media server + Roku + Plex Android app handles all of my media streaming needs just fine.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          To the best of my knowledge, DLNA does not support the AirPlay behavior. DLNA provides a fairly generic menu-based system to browse advertised media libraries, and to allow clients to request a file be streamed. It's not a bad system, though the fact that it's broadcast-only is annoying for anyone with non-flat network.

          But I'm not aware of any DLNA component that allows a system with local media to select an advertised client and force it to start playing a stream. Unless I've missed something DLNA doesn't

          • by bonehead (6382)

            But I'm not aware of any DLNA component that allows a system with local media to select an advertised client and force it to start playing a stream. Unless I've missed something DLNA doesn't even require clients to advertise, let alone to allow remote control.

            It's definitely part of the spec. I've even found a few android apps that implement the "remote control" part, as in using your phone to tell your TV to play a movie stored on your file server in the basement.

            What's unfortunate, is that to I've not been able to find examples of all 3 components (server, player, controller) that are anywhere close to being a workable setup. Unless you count Plex, which does do all 3, but unfortunately doesn't seem to play nice with non-Plex DLNA apps.

          • by aXis100 (690904)

            A DLNA device can be both a client and a server, and you can instruct servers to play content you have chosen. I'm pretty sure I've done this XBMC's DNLA implementation, controlled from my PC.

          • by bonehead (6382)

            To the best of my knowledge, DLNA does not support the AirPlay behavior.

            I should probably clarify my original post.

            When I said that DLNA "does it better", I was referring to the fact that it also handles video while MagicPlay is at this point music only. I didn't mean it more closely mimicked AirPlay behavior.

        • by Dynedain (141758)

          And being inside the Apple world, I've found that iMac w/ Plex media server + roku + Plex iOS app + Win7 w/ Plex media server covers all my media streaming needs.

          Plex is amazing... and it's even available in some "smart TVs" now too!

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        I actually find it remarkable that I should have to argue that an open standard that does something like AirPlay would be a good thing if it were done right and caught on.

        So like DLNA? That we already have and is widely supported.

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        Um, because AirPlay is proprietary.

        So is SMB. So are Skype and Google Hangouts. So is MP3. And yet all of those have alternatives based on open standards.

        Thing is, open standards are all well and good -- but if nobody uses them, who gives a shit?

      • by smash (1351)
        So is MP3, h.264, Active Directory and GIF. None of those are going away any time soon. You can either accept that and deal with it, or invent a new incompatible and functionally incomplete (no video) standard that nobody uses and thus, nobody will use.
    • If it's not compatible with AirPlay what's the point? My Linux music server already supports AirPlay, so does my MythTV, so does my iPhone. Why do we need yet a different new standard, especially if it doesn't work with existing devices?

      I don't think you understand (Well actually I think you do) from Wikipedia "AirPlay (previously called AirTunes when it was for audio only[1]) is a proprietary protocol stack/suite developed by Apple Inc. that allows wireless streaming of audio, video, and photos, together with related metadata between devices."

      I find it somewhat ironic that your defending Airplay...against more open standards like UPnP or DNLA...as someone who uses MythTV SMB works better...but then you have an iPhone and Apple stuff *only

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by smash (1351)

        Because Airplay does so much more than UPnP or DLNA. Whether you like apple or not, i can start playback on one device, move it to another mid-steam and not skip a beat. It does video. I can use it to do desktop mirroring.

        Whilst nerds on slashdot bitch about "proprietary garbage", real people are actually using and enjoying technology like this that has compatible hardware on the shelf (not just from apple) and actually works.

  • There are lots of protocols to play music over the network. This summary suggests there was none but AirPlay.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's already dead, unless Google themselves back it and get device manufacturers on board. I have a Yamaha audio receiver that already does DLNA and airplay, what niche does this fill? There's no way that AV receiver is going to get a bios update to support this, and there's no way I'm re-buying $1000 of equipment that already supports 4k resolution so I can have maybe 1 more format be supported. Linux already supports Airplay, this is typical ideological chest beating over open standards. Reinventing somet

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I have only been able to find two systems that play synchronous music, both proprietary. The first is Airplay and the second is Sonos. Everything else that I've tried plays out-of-sync to multiple speakers. Airplay has been cracked and there are Android clients for it. Airport Express wall warts are under $100, so I have gone that route for now. I am excited by the potential here with an open competitor. I believe some people have experimented with making UPnP synchronous, but have not run into any practica

      • What does synchronous mean in this context?

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          The AC explained it well. If I have a system on my deck and a system in my family room and a system in my dining room/kitchen, I'd like to stream to all 3 at once during, say, a party. With Airplay or Sonos, this works perfectly. With UPnP and other streaming solutions, the speakers get out of sync and you'd be surprised how bad that sounds. Like you are in an old echoey stadium.

          • by loufoque (1400831)

            I see.
            Indeed, I do not know of any solutions that allows to remotely play music on several devices synchronously. I know see the point of this technology, thanks.

  • by DMJC (682799) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @07:12PM (#44171217)
    It's already dead, unless Google themselves back it and get device manufacturers on board. I have a Yamaha audio receiver that already does DLNA and airplay, what niche does this fill? There's no way that AV receiver is going to get a bios update to support this, and there's no way I'm re-buying $1000 of equipment that already supports 4k resolution so I can have maybe 1 more format be supported. Linux already supports Airplay, this is typical ideological chest beating over open standards. Reinventing something that already works on Linux and Android is stupid and why Open code is having such trouble gaining adoption. You have to lead in innovation not play catch-up to the big boys. Don't try to get airplay remade, rather try to make 3d content stream,or something else that hasn't been done by the competitors.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Reinventing something that already works on Linux and Android is stupid and why Open code is having such trouble gaining adoption.

      Maybe "adoption" is not the point (especially when "adoption" means another avalanche of redundant consumer goods).

      The point is the principal of creating a standard can be the basis of understanding the technology and extending its capabilities that is open to anyone rather than locked up in some corporate lawyer's file cabinet.

      • by bonehead (6382)

        The point is the principal of creating a standard can be the basis of understanding the technology and extending its capabilities that is open to anyone

        Oh, to be young, naive, and ideological again....

        No, that's NOT the point.

        THE POINT is that if it can't add numbers to a companies bottom line, it will fade into obscurity in favor of something that does.

        That's how the world actually works.

  • No specs? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @07:56PM (#44171521)

    The docs directory on github is essentially empty. If they can't even provide a formal specification they are no better than reverse engineered versions of airplay. What a fucking joke.

    • The docs directory on github is essentially empty. If they can't even provide a formal specification they are no better than reverse engineered versions of airplay. What a fucking joke.

      Unfortunately I and I suspect most here are in the camp of understanding *code*(especially if its well designed) over a *formal specification*, and had a working implementation. The whole point of Airplay is to replace it, because its a proprietary protocol stack/suite developed by the most litigious company on the planet.

      • Unfortunately I and I suspect most here are in the camp of understanding *code*(especially if its well designed) over a *formal specification*, and had a working implementation.

        That's a little hard to parse - are you trying to rationalize standardization without a formal spec? Code is full of bugs and idiosyncrasies - it is in no way a reasonable basis for a standard.

      • Unfortunately I and I suspect most here are in the camp of understanding *code*(especially if its well designed) over a *formal specification*, and had a working implementation.

        Well I'm certainly not. Documentation is invaluable. You know what we don't need? More re-implementations / re-imaginings of existing things (protocols, new languages, etc etc). You know what we do need? More and better documentation - and possibly better tools too.

        Also I don't understand your use of the term 'Unfortunately' here. Are you saying that your position here is unfortunate? And if so, why don't you change your position? Or are you saying that it's unfortunate for those that do think documentation

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Unfortunately I and I suspect most here are in the camp of understanding *code*(especially if its well designed) over a *formal specification*, and had a working implementation. The whole point of Airplay is to replace it, because its a proprietary protocol stack/suite developed by the most litigious company on the planet.

        But what part of the code is code, and what part is spec? That's the problem. If I decide that since I see a "2" that means the number of channels, can I insert "8" because I want to send

  • UPNP AV (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AceJohnny (253840) <jlargentaye AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @08:06PM (#44171611) Journal

    There's already a competing open standard. [wikipedia.org]

    It's what I use with my android devices (via BubbleUPNP [google.com]), XBMC and my Squeezebox.

  • For the Linux fans out there, I've written up some instructions on how to turn your Raspberry Pi into a MagicPlay device.

    ... My RaspberryPI has AirPlay support ... audio AND video ...

    Great that its a BSD licensed alternative, but being that non of my devices will ever support this protocol, but they all support AirPlay, this is going to have a hard time gaining traction until it does what AirPlay does. Until then its just another silly protocol to do what we already can do, and do it better than this.

  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Tuesday July 02, 2013 @08:37PM (#44171823)

    Oh good! An AirPlay competitor! I wonder what video codec they used... Lemme just look through the code and...

    Oh. It seems it doesn't support video at all. Not really an AirPlay competitor then...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      AirPlay is a marketing name for 3 different protocols: AirTunes (RTSP-based music streaming protocol), AirPlay (video files served up over HTTP) and AirPlay Mirroring. Guess which use case is the most popular.
      • by BLKMGK (34057)

        Umm, video? I use it to stream Youtube vids from my iPad and iPhone to my XBMC boxes so I can see it on a bigger screen. Video is pretty important! I wish someone would do the desktop part for Linux now too just to complete things...

      • AirPlay is a marketing name for 3 different protocols: AirTunes (RTSP-based music streaming protocol), AirPlay (video files served up over HTTP) and AirPlay Mirroring.

        Guess which use case is the most popular.

        So it would be the open source AirTunes, not an open source AirPlay. Title is still wrong.

  • What a bunch of jerks you guys are. This is by DVDJon. Show some respect. To all the people that are going on about UPnP and DLNA, I don't think those do synchronized playback.
  • the site is remarkably content-free. In particular, is this just a nice implementation of SAP/RTP, and if not, why? Even AirPlay is just RTP with an obnoxious (and broken) encryption on the payload.

  • by smash (1351)

    .... not compatible with Airplay = non-starter. Like it or not, there is an absolutely huge Airplay userbase already, and you're quite unlikely to get those users to give up their devices. Personally, I'm not about to go integrating another protocol at home simply to cater to a few open source devices that I don't even own yet.

    If they worked with airplay, I might consider them - for those who haven't used it before, it just simply ROCKS to be able to stream audio or video on one device (e.g., AppleTV,

  • by Kagato (116051)

    It's basically Sonos... from 8 years ago, except open source and without the hardware. Apple Airplay is great for video, but the Airplay Extreme audio players are a kludgy joke compared to Sonos. You want something that just works today get a Sonos. Yeah, Sonos is not cheap, but I feel that the price premium was paid in full and then some with all the updates and feature enhancements. I'm using hardware that's 5 years old now and it's still rock solid with all the features and services a new unit would

  • "Ever since Apple launched AirTunes in 2004 (later renamed AirPlay) they have remained unchallenged in the Wi-Fi music streaming market. With various manufacturers releasing AirPlay-only Wi-Fi speakers, Android and other non-Apple device users have been left out in the cold.

    Not true. AirPlay (as well as AirPrint) is an open standard. I've a couple of Android applications which transmit to my AppleTV without a problem. It's really the unwillingness of the hardware developers and/or Google to make use of that standard, being the only reason they can't make use of AirPlay.

    • by BLKMGK (34057)

      No, sorry it's not open. It uses encryption and the only reason why some of the features work on Linux or elsewhere is because the crypto key was found in a firmware update. That is why when some IOS updates have come out Shairport etc. has gotten broken on Linux, Apple changed the keys. Once the new keys are figured out support resumes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirPlay [wikipedia.org]

      • by Shadowmist (57488)

        No, sorry it's not open. It uses encryption and the only reason why some of the features work on Linux or elsewhere is because the crypto key was found in a firmware update. That is why when some IOS updates have come out Shairport etc. has gotten broken on Linux, Apple changed the keys. Once the new keys are figured out support resumes.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AirPlay [wikipedia.org]

        From that same article you quoted.

        "Originally only implemented in Apple's software and devices, Apple has licensed the audio-streaming portion of the AirPlay protocol stack as a third-party software component technology to manufacturer partners for them to use in their products in order to be compatible with Apple's iDevices."

        There is aboslutely nothing stopping anyone from licensing software to enable this capability. A third party developer could license this for software. Hardware developers can lice

        • Is there something about the term "open standard" that you don't understand? Licensing technology does NOT make it open. Publishing, openly, how something works and the data is formatted to interoperate would be making it "open"....

  • Like most people, I'm mostly interested in the capability to stream audio to all kinds of devices. And people have already pointed out some key differences with DLNA that explain why there is reason to be happy with something like MagicPlay.

    But Airplay offers streaming of audio, as well as video, photo's and screen mirroring. I haven't looked into the source yet, but going by the description, it looks like MagicPlay doesn't offer any of that and sofar nobody is planning to add it. Has anyone looked at the s

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