Apple TV’s new AirTunes capabilities and AirFoil

“The Apple TV can now receive audio from iTunes, as an AirTunes device, just like an AirPort Express… Apple TV’s will now appear in iTunes output menu… It works just like a standard AirPort Express units,” Paul reports for Rogue Amoeba.

“However, this AirTunes functionality is one-way -the Apple TV can not send audio to AirPort Express units. It functions only as a receiver, not a transmitter, at least currently,” Paul reports.

“When receiving audio from iTunes as an AirTunes device, the Apple TV [displays information right on your TV screen], including song, artist and album name, as well album artwork where available,” Paul reports.

“The Apple Remote remotely controls the copy of iTunes that’s sending to the Apple TV, as reported here. When the Apple TV is receiving and in AirTunes mode, the Apple Remote allows you to pause and skip tracks,” Paul reports.

The iTunes Preference “Allow iTunes control from remote speakers” is located “in the Advanced section -> General tab, and it appears to be off by default. Prior to now, this preference only applied to Keyspan’s hardware, and was always a bit odd. Anyhow, turn it on and the remote will control iTunes, through the Apple TV,” Paul reports.

“Right now Airfoil 3, our tool for sending audio to hardware all around your house, also sees the Apple TV as an output. It displays it as an AirPort Express unit for now, and you can even send audio to it,” Paul reports. “However, it does not properly handle this audio, because the receiving method differs from that of a standard AirPort Express. The specifics of network encryption used by the Airport Express appear to differ on the Apple TV. Thus, at this time, Airfoil 3 is not able to work as desired with the Apple TV.”

“We’re currently working to get the Apple TV and Airfoil talking to one another fully, and we’ve already got the Apple TV experimentally receiving audio from development builds of Airfoil,” Paul reports.

More in the full article, including screenshots, here.


  1. We will alas be in the Promised Land when AppleTV can transmit its sound, independently, to multiple remote AirTunes/Airport Express points in the home. Then, you can forget stringing speaker wire from hell to breakfast throughout your living room and home, and just plug the speakers in wherever.

  2. I’ve always thought the Airport Express was always under appreciated.

    Not only wireless Air Tunes, but it was also Apple’s first wireless printing solution.

    And a portable wireless access point, long before wi-fi became so ubiquitous.

  3. WTF! And how does this differ from just streaming music wirelessly from you computer and controlling everything on the Apple TV television? I don’t get it! And WHY can’t it output through the optical cable to my receiver, so I can play on my stereo instead of my damn TV with tinny speakers? I was hoping for a replacement to Airport Express which continues to drag down the network to 802.11g snail pace. I truly don’t get how the airtunes functionality does anything since music can already be streamed to your TV or stereo wirelessly with Apple TV. Someone enlighten me please?

  4. this is very good news and will sell an apple tv to this house.

    Preclviosly, you could play itunes tracks on apple tv but it was limited to that tv only – controlled by apple tv. Nice feature but not what airtunes did. Now, apple tv can be just one of many nodes playing music from iTunes. This is important if you like playing music throughout your house with a small collection of airport expresses like I do.

    Also, airfoil is a great invention because it sees all the airtunes nodes but isn’t limited to airtunes. So you can stream an Internet radio station – not on iTunes – and play it throughout your home.

    Clear as mud? Bottom line- apple tv now has a slew of very useful options.

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