Apple TV Android Freeware Roundup: Review

iMediaShare

Russ Johnson reviews three free Android apps that stream HD content to Apple TV, smart TVs and other media center devices.

aNewDomain.net — I speak Android. My wife is fluent in Apple OS X and Apple iOS. But we meet on the family couch regularly and play dueling devices anyway.

We even share videos, streaming TED lectures and other rich content via an Apple TV box and right on up through our projection booth, which shares our pantry with the cereal. Even I’m surprised to see content from my little Samsung Galaxy S II screen on a big screen in stunning high-definition. How? Check out this trio of apps.

Granted, Airplay on an Apple device lets you mirror both your browser and your interface. That won’t happen with the Android apps I am reviewing here. Yet with varying degrees of success, each of the apps I reviewed will play content streamed from the web — locally from your device and even from computers on your network.

The first is iMediaShare Lite.

It offers a clean, intuitive interface with a variety of program channels including ones I like most: TED, ESPN, CBS, New York Times videos and This Week in Tech with Leo Laporte. It lets you share your Picasa and Facebook pictures. And it will also locate your local media servers so you can access content on them. It is easy to set up a slide show using pictures and video from your phone.

The iMediaShare app also supports the Sony PS3, the Xbox 360 and a wide variety of TVs and other devices that meet DLNA standards.

But unless you opt for the $4.95 paid version you can’t, as with Twonky Beam, stream random YouTube links or other media files from the web.

iMediaShare

Twonky Beam is a browser on Red Bull. It has a smaller selection of preset channels but you can also search the web within the app and if it recognizes an audio or video file on any web page, it will likely play it. It also lets you bookmark your favorites in the browser.

For example, I have NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me podcast bookmarked so I can play it on our home theater system while enjoying Sunday morning waffles. Tapping the My Media icon will take you to the playlists, videos, MP3s and photos on your phone, but I found it very clunky and sluggish for slide shows. Twonky also works with some Sony and Samsung smart TVs, Roku and Sonos boxes.

Twonky Beam

It is a little harder to find mainstream channels on Zappo-TV but content-wise it is like drinking from the Hoover Dam. Zappo offers a large and eclectic brew of podcasts, most of which you have never heard of. Are you ready for The Secret Moves of Pro Wrestling?  It will link you to Facebook, YouTube, Picasa and Flickr. You can also call up hundreds of Shoutcast audio streams ranging from major public radio stations to some listed with one listener.

ZappoTV

Images in this piece credit: Russ Johnson

All of these apps are also available for iOS, but you probably don’t need them unless you want to smell the roses outside of Apple’s walled garden.

About the author

Russ Johnson

Based in Sonoma, California, Russ Johnson is a Senior Editor at newdomain.net covering travel and travel tech. A former broadcaster and award-winning journalist, he has worked in 58 countries on video, photo, consulting and editorial assignments. Lonely Planet has called his pioneering travel magazine connectedtraveler.com "Armchair travel at its best.” With his wife, Pat Meier-Johnson, Russ produces the Connected Traveler Technology Showcase at the New York Times and Los Angeles Times Travel Shows. russ@anewdomain.net. Twitter @connectedtravlr

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