The future of music streaming services revealed
The download is dithering, but is streaming music all it's cracked up to be?
Free or subscription-based services but they're mostly either stuck on your smartphone, your desktop computer or your games console. Add radio stations and podcasts to the mix, and sharing a stream between devices isn't easy.
The whole thing's a mess. What we need is some kind of unifying technology that accepts streams from anywhere, sends it to anything, and keeps everything synchronised and in top quality.
Are there any open standards for multi-room music?
Yes – Qualcomm AllPlay. "AllPlay is an open platform, meaning consumers will be able to control compatible audio products from different brands at the same time," says Luan Vien, Global Marketing Manager at Lenco, whose new Wi-Fi-based PlayLink speakers will be among the first to use AllPlay.
"This interoperability gives consumers maximum choice, which is a major advantage over other closed platforms [because] before too long we will see other smart home appliances appearing, and the potential for connectivity will become more and more important." This is, of course, the Internet of Things.
What about synchronisation?
"It's core to what we do," says Gary Brotman, Director, Product Management for the AllPlay Smart Media Platform at Qualcomm in SanDiego. "AllPlay operates as a P2P tech and takes music from a PC, a smartphone, or from the cloud and streams it to up to 10 AllPlay speakers synchronously and with no noticeable skew, latency or echo between zones or speakers. It can also do 10 individual streams to 10 speakers."
Lenco has also chosen AllPlay for its PlayLink speakers
AllPlay is also about keeping the Wi-Fi network strong. "If you don't have solid Wi-Fi in a speaker, it doesn't matter how good the quality is, how many content services you have integrated, or how many speakers you can stream to because you'll never hear it if the connectivity is poor," says Brotman. "That's a problem that has plagued many of the systems to date."
Essentially an audio module, AllPlay is built on AllJoyn, an open source software framework initially built for smartphone gaming, instant communications and other functions where low-latency is crucial.
Streaming music is only the start, the Internet Of Things aims to make all everything connected.