I have been searching for years for a device that would allow me to play my iTunes playlists through my AV Receiver and allow me to remotely control the playback without having to turn on a TV to view the UI. My newly purchased Roku 2 XD teamed with the free Roku Remote app for IOS devices seems to give me what I have been looking for. The Play On Roku feature in the Roku iPhone app provides the capability missing from all the other Media Players that I have tried. There is precious little documentation on the Play On feature so I would like to share what I have discovered.
When I first tried using Play On, I discovered that only three of the many iTunes playlists on my computer displayed in the app. I searched in vain to find out where the app gets the playlists that it uses. I finally figured it out and to my surprise, I discovered that this app uses the playlists which are resident on the iPhone, not the ones in iTunes on the computer. The reason that only three playlists displayed on my phone is that I had iTunes set to only sync three of my playlists with the phone. This is a selectable option in the iTunes program.
The next problem I encountered was how to get Play On to play my music in a random shuffled order. This app plays the playlist in the order that is displayed on the phone. For the Smart Playlists that I typically use, the iTunes default sort options are by name, artist, album, etc. They do not offer a random sort option. Random playback is achieved by shuffling the playlist in iTunes or in the iPhone's music player. The display order of the songs does not change when shuffle is applied, just the playback order.
It took a while but I have figured out a way to get shuffled iTunes playlists to display on the Roku using the iPhone app and its Play On Roku feature.
Go to iTunes on your computer. If the playlist you want to sort randomly is a smart playlist, click the top of the first column to the left of check box column. Then right click on the playlist name and select edit smart playlist. Check the box that says "Limit to" and enter any number. Us a number higher than the number of songs in the playlist if you want to include all the songs. Make sure the option boxes say "items" and "random". When this is done, go back to the top of the first column and click it again. Your list should now appear in a random order. Toggle the shuffle button at the bottom of the page on and off to change the order any time.
If the playlist is a regular playlist it is even easier. Regular playlists do not have an edit option. Simply toggle the shuffle button to change the order. Be sure to leave shuffle on when you are finished.
Once you have your playlists sufficiently shuffled, sync to your iPhone, (iPod or iPad), and you are good to go.
The Play To Roku feature in the free Roku app for IOS is really useful for me. Since the interaction with the Roku box is via WIFI, I can pause or skip a song as well as change to a different playlist from anywhere that my iPhone can connect to my home network.
Thank you Roku for creating this great app.