Plex adds Airplay support to its Android app, with a little help from LG
Now this is interesting: The latest update of the Plex Android app added support for Apple’s Airplay protocol, meaning that users can now beam videos, music or photos from their Android phone or tablet to their Apple TV.
For Plex, that’s just one of many platforms the app is supporting — the media center maker already has dedicated apps on Roku, Playstation, Xbox and a number of smart TV platforms, and most of these also support multi-screen functionality to launch media playback straight from a phone or tablet. However, Apple TV is a bit of a different beast. There is no official Plex app for Apple TV, and Airplay is a closed protocol that’s officially only been available on iOS.
So how did Plex get to add Airplay to its Android app? By relying on some outside help: Plex partnered with LG on its Connect SDK project last year, which aims to simplify multiscreen technologies with a kind of abstraction layer. Developers just have to add LG’s code to their apps to instantly reach a number of different devices, instead of adding and maintaining support for all of these devices on their own.
The Connect SDK team added support for Apple TV last summer, at the time describing it this way:
“By using an undocumented protocol, Connect SDK lets Android developers discover, connect to, and control Apple TVs, much like webOS and Roku devices.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time someone has added Airplay support to Android by reverse engineering the protocol. The good news is that with this approach, Plex doesn’t have to change a thing if Apple tweaks Airplay, as long as LG keeps its Connect SDK up to date.