Why can't I use AirTunes from my iPod or iPhone?

For those of us with an AirPort Express, this question comes up at some point: why can’t I play directly to it from my iPod touch or iPhone, using the same AirTunes technology that is available through iTunes?


After all, an iPod touch or iPhone has WiFi, and AirTunes works through WiFi. If I can do it from my Mac, it stands to reason that I should be able to do it from my iPhone, doesn’t it?

Apple iPhone 3G

Instead, we get a hamstrung app like Remote, which is neat, but somewhat pointless. Think about it: you’re using a device which already has your music library stored on it (iPod touch) to play and control the same music, stored on your computer. Why the middleman? Why not go direct?


Sure, the Remote app is useful in the living room, if you also have a music library stored on your Apple TV. You can then control the playback of that music or videos without using the Apple Remote, which has a much longer battery life, is smaller, and much easier to use… eh, wait a minute, that doesn’t sound like it’s better, does it?

Given Apple’s commitment to the environment, I have to wonder why they insist on using the laptop or desktop machine when it’s not necessary.


I realize using AirTunes to play music directly from the iPod touch or iPhone will drain the battery much faster than playing the music through headphones or through a dock connected to a speaker, but hey, we should at least have that choice, right?


22 thoughts on “Why can't I use AirTunes from my iPod or iPhone?

  1. J Rogers says:

    WHAT THE HECK! for 7 days after i bought the airport express, i had the speaker select button right next to the fast forward button in the music application. Leave the house for a day and come back and the buttons gone! For in the multitasking pane, on the volume section the button was there too! I loved having that button so i do not have to boot up my laptop! Ive tried everything to get that button to pop back up but it just won’t! Apple put the button back so customers do not have to boot up laptops and computers to use Airtunes!!!


    • J Rogers says:

      NEVERMIND!!! 4.2.1 on all apple iproducts(i.e. ipod, iphone, ipad) comes with airplay, which allows the user to not have to use their computer to play music from the idevice to airport exreme or apple tv. i rebooted my iPod touch and the button popped back up. if anyone needs help getting their ipod, iphone, or ipad to connect to airport express or apple tv. email me at i will be happy to help anyone and everyone


  2. Montana says:

    Yes, your problem may have been solved. Anybody with an iPod touch 2g/3g/4g or iPhone 3GS/4 (sorry, iPhone 3G) can stream wirelessly to Apple TV 2G (running OS 4.1), AirPort Express, or AirPlay-compatible speakers, with iOS 4.2.


  3. Mike says:

    If Apple puts this in, this will be another I’m-happy-I-got-an-iphone deals. C’mon!! Please?? This would be so useful.


  4. Tim J L says:

    This is something apple really needs to implement and it’s pissing me off that they won’t. Just make the iPhone AirTunes aware already please so I don’t have to tether it to a dock to play it through an AirTunes connected stereo.


  5. Agreed. Wish iPad would support AirTunes but not holding my breath.

    Furthermore, anyone who has ever used AirFoil / AirFoil Speakers with their computer(s) knows how easy that program makes it to send any audio from one place to another.

    So why can my iPhone / iPod Touch (and therefore, my iPad) act as a *receiver* for music I want to send it (using Airfoil but not as a *sender* of that same music..?



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  7. SGoodall says:

    It’s possible to send music via bluethooth on iPhone as my friends do in there cars with there bluethooth radios, so surly some the code exists aswell.
    I’d like so that right now u could listen music as iv left my MacBook other end the house and just want to chill


  8. CASTROL says:





  9. lance says:

    Really hope they allow streaming from phone to airtunes direct simply so my computer doesn’t have to be on to play music to my airtunes. it’s less power for my phone to play the tunes than to have to turn on my comp and use remote. i get battery life is an issue but c’mon, the iphone can play 30 hours of music on one charge. even for those who party till 6 in the morning in everyday that ends in y, that’s good enough!


  10. Two words: battery life.

    Unless the iPhone starts using batteries powered by nuclear waste or something*, you will never see an app that streams FROM the iPhone TO… well, to anything else. Transmitting takes a hell of a lot more power than receiving.

    *which ain’t gonna happen. Remember, Al Gore is on Apple’s board of directors.


    • marc says:

      @ Ken Barber,

      Orly? I use Skype on my iPhone 3GS frequently at home using one of my two wifi networks (802.11g).

      Unfortunately, the iPhone 3GS can not work with 802.11n wireless networks which means it can’t communicate with the latest version of AirPort Express.

      There is no reason why the iPhone can’t be plugged in with it’s charger cord to maintain the battery charge.


      • Jaryd says:

        So you want to wireless transmit audio to your AirPort Express, and then plug it in? The whole point is to not to have to plug it in! I really would like to see streaming directly to AirTunes myself, but I can see how it would drain the battery with that consistent transmission.

        If you have to plug it in, why not just plug it in next to the speakers and play it directly from there?


    • Brian Sallows says:

      Ipod battery life wouldn’t be a problem if the ipod was plugged into a simple ipod charger while playing using airport express. Would it ?


  11. Robo says:

    I already have an Airport Express that was not getting much use so I thought I would use it with my external DAC/headphone amp for bedtime listening. My macbook is not exactly handy when you are relaxing in bed listening to music so I bought an ipod touch without even giving a second thought that it would not work with it!! I am frankly shocked it does not work and even worse the hardware is capable! What a waste of money. I cannot even find an Apple email to give them a hard time!


  12. JP says:

    Very much agree with these sentiments. I’ve just moved to the iPhone within the last couple of weeks and I’m loving the experience. Really surprised this weekend to discover there is no way to send tunes straight from my iPhone to my AirTunes speakers. Seems like a complete no-brainer to me. As you say, all well and good to control your existing Mac library from your iPhone, but it does seem a bit pointless when you could go direct. The potential for things like parties is great to – your friends could bring their own playlists along on their iPhone or Touch and just connect straight to your Airtunes and vice versa; Great fun. Be interested to see if this changes. Surely someone somewhere is thinking the same and developing an app to make it happen?!


  13. pankaj says:

    I second your thoughts on iPod and AirTunes. I wondered this many times. Battery can be an issue but if I want to play songs through airtunes then its my problem dealing with battery. Sometimes I am at home and its so easy to switch on your stereo than booting my computer. I don’t want to spend $100 on an iPod dock which can only give me analog sound.


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