DoubleTwist intros AirPlay-like, open source MagicPlay protocol

July 2, 2013
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DoubleTwist, the group behind music library middleware and several Android apps, hopes to make WiFi music streaming a little more seamless with a new, open source framework called MagicPlay.

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Why does flinging music from your smartphone to another device have to be so complicated? A number of companies boast room-to-room wireless audio streaming services. However, all of the major players rely on proprietary solutions, which typically means their technologies will only work with devices produced by companies willing to pay licensing fees. Bluetooth is a workaround, as are potentially illicit apps like AirFoil, but none are as simple as, say, the AirPlay button on iOS and iTunes. DoubleTwist hopes to solve that problem. Known mostly for music library middleware and Android apps, the company hopes to make WiFi music streaming ubiquitous with a new, open source framework called MagicPlay.

A major differentiator between MagicPlay and other streaming solutions is the lack of licensing fee: MagicPlay is free to implement. That means manufacturers of wireless speakers, headphones, Smart TVs, and other devices are able to incorporate MagicPlay features by simply adding code freely available on Github. DoubleTwist maintains that, because the service was built using Qualcomm’s AllJoyn framework, code with a high level of compatibility, MagicPlay should function on most any chipset, regardless of manufacturer.

How well does it work? Judging by the company’s website, pretty darn well. Just like Apple’s AirPlay, options to send music from the app to compatible devices appear when all of the aforementioned are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. As you might expect, MagicPlay synchronizes playback between devices, and allows control of volume and playback. According to a report by The Verge, audio quality is excellent, and the service works without stuttering or dropping connection.

Availability of devices and apps that work with the new protocol is important, which DoubleTwist seems to understand. The company has already integrated MagicPlay into its own music player app for Android, but the source code is freely available for any developer who wishes to incorporate the service. The company expects compatible speakers and home stereos to begin shipping early next year, but does have plans to bring MagicPlay to the Google TV platform and Raspberry Pi in the future.

It’s hard to tell if manufacturers and app makers will choose to embrace MagicPlay, but adoption of an open source streaming solution would certainly be a positive step for the tech industry.

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