Turn Your Old iPhone into a Wireless Music SystemS

Attention, Mac people who just bought or are about to receive a new iPhone. If your old iPhone is still fairly new, you don’t have any kids yammering for an iPod Touch (that you want to give them), and you have no other reason to keep it, you should probably sell it.

Thanks in part to the unfortunate phenomenon of iPhone theft —something that should eventually decrease with iOS 7′s Activation Lock feature – there’s a healthy ecosystem around selling old iPhones. In some malls, you can simply drop them into a mailbox-type box to “receive your cash on the spot.”

If your old iPhone is old and busted, like mine, you probably won’t get much for it. Here’s a better idea: Turn that old iPhone into a wireless music receiver for $3, and plug it into a stereo or powered speakers in your house. Presto: wireless music from any source.

The best answer we’ve found for this, WiFi2HiFi ($3), solves a problem with the iPhone — namely, that it cannot act as wireless AirPlay receivers, the way Androids can (unless you jailbreak them).

You can set it up in a couple of minutes, and then boom — all the audio from your Mac will come out of your old iPhone. Plug that thing into some powered speakers, a home entertainment center, or an old stereo system, and you have an inexpensive wireless audio system that can play anything — iTunes, Spotify, Windows Media Player, Rdio, Pandora, or any other music source your Mac can handle. We’ve been testing it, and it works just fine.

First, you’ll need to charge up the old iPhone, at least a little bit. If it’s working, good — simply install WiFi2HiFi on your iPhone, and the station software on your Mac.

Only do this part if your old iPhone can’t get on WiFi : If you had to move your SIM card from your old phone to your new phone, you might have to follow Apple’s instructions to get the old one up and running again (basically, inserting the SIM card, firing up the phone, and then removing the SIM card and putting it back in your new phone).

Once your old iPhone is up and running, and connected to your WiFi network — basically turning it into an iPod Touch — installing WiFi2HiFi is a breeze. Buy it on your old iPhone, from the iTunes app store. Unfortunately, it costs $3 (but hey, Apple’s solution, the AirPort Express, costs $99, and AirFoil costs $25, even though Airfoil Speakers Touch is free).

Let’s break down the advantages and disadvantages here:

WiFi2Home ($3, iOS)

Pros

  • Super simple.
  • Clean, minimalist design on both iPhone and Mac.
  • It works anywhere you have WiFi. (We tested it with iTunes, on-demand music services, and streaming radio services.)
  • It costs $3. That’s a lot for an app, and not a lot for a receiver.
  • You can control volume with a nice dial on the old iPhone, and use Play/Pause, Skip, and Back controls with iTunes (volume works with all other apps).
  • Handy control in the Mac Menu Bar:

Turn Your Old iPhone into a Wireless Music System

Cons

  • Mac-only. Earlier versions worked with Windows Vista and Windows 7. Developer Tobias Gemperli told Evolver.fm by email, “Windows is more complicated to support than MAC. There are a lot of different sound cards and special cases. Therefore we have started with MAC only.
  • Old versions of the station software are still online. Gemperli told us that this is so that people who still have the old version of the iOS app can install it from there. Don’t get those if you have the new version of WiFi2HiFi – make sure to get the Station software for your Mac here.
  • The music stops coming out of your Mac, so whatever’s connected to your old iPhone will be the only thing playing sound from your computer.
  • You can stream to multiple iPhones, but they’re out of sync, so they’d need to be in rooms pretty far away from each other.
  • There’s no way to send music to WiFi2Home from another iOS device. For that, you can or follow these directions for Spotify.

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(Top Image: Flickr/Maggie T)

Turn Your Old iPhone into a Wireless Music System Evolver.fm observes, tracks and analyzes the music apps scene, with the belief that it's crucial to how humans experience music, and how that experience is evolving.