Using an iPad and AirPlay to bring Pandora to a Bose Wave Radio

Given that today was Mother’s Day, it seemed particularly important that Aviva get to sleep in when the kids woke up early (I usually handle wake-ups in the first half of the night, and she handles the second half).  Sure enough, the baby woke up at 6am, and the three-year-old came down not long after, so I brought them downstairs and tried to keep the noise level down to a dull roar.

I find being up at 6am much more manageable if I am drinking coffee and listening to music (quietly), but unfortunately my phone and all of its music was charging next to my bed upstairs.  Not wanting to risk waking up my wife, I started to cast about for something else to listen to.

6 am is a bit of a wasteland in Boston radio, at least according to my limited tastes.  NPR is playing talk radio programs I don’t enjoy until 8 am, and the music stations are stuck on infomercials.  The situation improves around 7am, when 104.1 starts playing Acoustic Sunrise, a program featuring unplugged rock and pop music.  However, that wasn’t for another hour, and I wasn’t interested in waiting that long.

Then I remembered Pandora Radio.  Most people are well aware of Pandora, but for those uninitiated, it’s an internet radio station with no set playlist.  They have taken on the very challenging job of tagging music based on hundreds of different characteristics, enabling them to take an artist or song that you like and create an entire radio station based on comparable music.  Since they are streaming music without allowing you to permanently download a copy, they fall under radio licensing terms, and they use advertising to cover the costs.  It’s a completely free internet radio station perfectly customized to your interests.

I had created a Pandora account years ago when they were still relatively new.  At the time I was working at a company that specialized in content personalization, and I was more interested in learning about what Pandora was doing than actually finding music.  I was amazed at how I put in a single artist (Brandi Carlisle), and it started playing song after song that was squarely in my musical tastes.  While I was impressed, I never used it much afterwards since most of the time I prefer to listen to NPR podcasts or books, and when I do want to listen to music, I have plenty on my phone.

This seemed like the perfect time to dust off Pandora and give it a try.  Our iPad lives in the kitchen, and it took just a few seconds to download the Pandora application for iOS.  My old experimental “stations” were still there, but I created a new one based on Regina Spektor.  After playing one of her songs, Pandora treated me to a wide variety of other artists, including Fiona Apple, Kimya Dawson, and Lily Allen.  Wonderful!

Just one problem – the music was playing out of the iPad’s speakers.

The iPad’s speakers are decent enough, but we have a Bose Wave Radio in the kitchen, and there is just no comparison.  I wanted the full featured sound that would really fill the space (or at least fill it enough that it wouldn’t wake up my wife upstairs).  A few months ago, I purchased an Airport Express and hooked it up to the Bose, allowing us to use Airplay to stream music and podcasts from our phones over the wireless network to the stereo.  However, there  was no Airplay icon in Pandora to tell it to stream the music instead of playing out the speakers:


Just normal song controls to play/pause and skip around.

Then, I remembered that with the upgrade to 4.2, the iPad now had an additional set of music player controls to the “left” of the fast-app switching bar.  I double tapped the home button, pulling up the list of recently accessed applications at the bottom of the page.  I then swiped from left to right to access the hidden controls.  Since Pandora was using Apple’s built-in music API’s, these controls now applied to the Pandora, and there was the Airplay icon:


Tapping the Airplay icon let me choose the Airport Express attached the Bose, and immediately the Pandora music started streaming through the Bose stereo.

I spent the next several hours playing with the kids and enjoying a better radio station than any in Boston.  It was a great mix of music I knew and artists I had never heard of.  The only downside was that the iPad consumed a lot of power streaming music down from Pandora and then re-streaming it over Airplay.  Over the course of about two hours, it burned through 20% of battery.

Still, the quality and content of the music was worth it.  I think stream Pandora through the iPad over the Bose will be a regular activity now.

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2 Responses to Using an iPad and AirPlay to bring Pandora to a Bose Wave Radio

  1. Lindsay says:

    Would have never found that hidden control panel, new bose airlink is amazing!! Thanks!!!! Lindsay

  2. Judy says:

    Same here. I’ve spent days trying to figure this out and now I have music. Thanks.

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