How to Use AirPlay and Home Sharing on Your iPad

By Nancy C. Muir

Your iPad is a handy device that can give you access to all kinds of media, including music. AirPlay and Home Sharing are two methods of sharing music among devices.

AirPlay gives you the ability to stream audio to externally powered speakers on your wireless network as well as to home entertainment centers that include an Apple TV unit. Several speaker manufacturers have built AirPlay hardware into their systems. AirPlay streaming technology is built into the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, as well as being available to iTunes on Windows PCs and Macs.

With AirPlay, you can send media files from one device to be played on another. You can send (say) a movie that you purchased on your iPad or a slideshow of photos to be played on your TV — and control the playback from your iPad. You can also send music to be played over speakers.

There are a few ways to do this. You can purchase an Apple TV and stream video, photos, and music to the TV, or you can purchase an AirPort Express Wi-Fi router and attach your speakers to it to play music. Finally, if you buy AirPlay–enabled wireless speakers, you can stream audio directly to them.

This combination of equipment varies, so — if you’re interested in using AirPlay — visit your nearest Apple Store or certified Apple dealer and find out which hardware combination will work best for you.

iOS 8 supports peer-to-peer AirPlay support, which means that if you can make a direct connection to AirPlay speakers or Apple TV, you can share content such as music and photos without being on the same network.

To use AirPlay with another AirPlay–enabled device on your network or in close proximity, swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap the AirPlay button in the Control Center.

If you get a bit antsy watching a long movie, one of the beauties of AirPlay is that you can still use your iPad to check email, browse photos or the Internet, or check your calendar while the media plays.

Home Sharing is a feature of iTunes that you can use to share music and video among devices that have Home Sharing turned on. To use the feature, each device has to have the same Apple ID on your network. After it is set up via iTunes, you can stream music and videos to any of the devices, and even click and drag content between devices using iTunes on your computer. iTunes on your computer can also share its library over a network.