Turn iPhone speakers into a wireless surround-sound system, using Audibly app

Three WWDC scholarship winning students have teamed up to create an app called Audibly which lets users combine iPhones to create surround-sound.

The Audibly app was created to allow users to share music directly to other devices so more than one person can enjoy a song at the same time, in surround-sound.

The app allows a person with a song physically stored on their iPhone or iPad to hit the "broadcast" button, within Audibly, to share that track. It will then come up with a list of nearby friends to connect to. Once approved by the other users the music will start playing out of all the linked devices in unison.

Audibly's creators say this will also work for streaming services soon so users won't have to physically own the song. This includes Spotify, Beats and even YouTube.

When listening to a shared track, which you don't own, it's possible to star those you like. Later on you can listen to that song in Rdio or Spotify instantly or buy it from iTunes.

This is exciting as an alternative to carrying around wireless speakers. Everyone at a barbeque, for example, can have the same music playing from their phones as they move about so there are tunes wherever there are people.

Audibly is still in its early stages and its creators, Veeral Patel, Nick Frey and Chris Galzerano admit it hasn't been stress tested. The direct Wi-Fi sharing may still need work as signal weaknesses could lead to the songs slipping out of sync across devices.

Samsung's Group Play offers a similar service connecting Samsung devices for not only music but videos and gaming also.

Audibly is free to download and available now for iOS 7 devices and above. It is said to work reliably with up to 6 devices connected at the moment. 

READ: Which is the best music streaming service in the UK? Spotify vs Rdio vs Deezer and more

First impressions

A quick play in the office with an iPhone 5S and an iPad mini proved that Audibly is incredibly easy to use and setup. To get started you download the apps on all the devices you want to connect up and disable Bluetooth off on the host device so it doesn't interfere with the technology.

You then simply select the broadcast option within the app to share your music out to any other iOS devices that also has the same app and has opted to listen out for the special broadcast. Anyone with the Audibly app can share the music and there are no passwords or handover security hoops to jump through. 

In practice, listening to Alanis Morrissette (we are enjoying a 90s throwback stage at the moment), we did find that the music does have to be local to the device rather than accessed from iTunes Match or streaming services.

Overall Audibly works really well, especially in our case as the iPad Mini has a louder more powerful speaker. We can easily see this being a hit at picnics or on summer holidays if you've both got an iPhone, it supports up to six devices, and probably that annoying bus ride home with teenagers when there are no portable speakers to hand - Stuart Miles