With AirPlay, you can make what appears on your smaller iOS devices appear on a much larger screen. Even if you don't have an Apple TV, you can still use an AirPlay stream reader on your Mac or Windows computer to view your iPhone or iPad screen a bit larger. Here are three tips for getting the most out of AirPlay.
1. AirPlay mirroring
AirPlay comes in three forms: AirPlay audio, AirPlay video, and AirPlay mirroring. With AirPlay audio, your music apps can stream music to any AirPlay audio-capable device (this includes wireless speakers, AirPort Express base stations, and Apple TVs). With AirPlay video, your compatible video apps can stream video wirelessly to AirPlay video- capable devices (currently only Apple TVs). With AirPlay mirroring, you can stream your entire iOS display to an AirPlay video-capable device, including all on-screen controls and applications.
To enable AirPlay mirroring for demos and presentations, follow these steps:
- Open Control Center on iOS 7 devices by swiping up from the bottom of the screen
- In the Control Center, tap on AirPlay (AirPlay will be an option here only if AirPlay devices are detected on your Wi-Fi network)
- In the list of AirPlay devices, tap on an AirPlay video device (denoted with a TV screen icon beside the name)
- This will connect to the AirPlay device for playing audio and video, but to enable mirroring, enable the Mirroring option that appears (Figure A)
To enabling AirPlay mirroring, you have to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the Apple TV you're connecting with.
Once the mirroring option has been selected, all video output from the device (the entire screen, audio, and any videos played) will be directed through the AirPlay device (Apple TV). To disable AirPlay mirroring, simply navigate back to the list of AirPlay devices in the Control Center, and select your iOS device at the top of the list.
2. AirPlay for videos
AirPlay can handle any video that iOS can play. In system applications and many 3rd party apps, the ability to AirPlay video is a standard. When you AirPlay a video, the full quality of the video is sent from your iOS device directly to the Apple TV and played on a much larger screen.
AirPlay video can be enabled a bit differently than AirPlay mirroring. If you already have AirPlay mirroring enabled, then whenever you go to play a video, it will enable AirPlay video and begin streaming the video to the AirPlay device — but if you don't have a mirroring-capable device, or if you don't have it enabled yet, you can also enable AirPlay video for a particular video (as needed) by following these steps:
- Open a video from an application, website, or through the Photos application
- In the player toolbar, tap the small AirPlay icon that appears in the lower, right-hand corner of the screen (Figure B)
- In the list of AirPlay devices that appears, click one to immediately have the video played on the selected device (Figure C)
The video will play from the spot you're currently at to the end of the video on the Apple TV. You can still use the player controls to control the position, play/pause, and captions that appear on the Apple TV.
To no longer have the video taking over the Apple TV, simply tap the AirPlay button again, and select your iOS device at the top of the AirPlay device listing.
3. AirPlay without Apple TV
AirPlay is a great technology that leverages the power of iOS devices and AirPlay devices, but what if you don't have an Apple TV and still want to use AirPlay video or mirroring to show a demo, presentation, or play a video? Fortunately, there are a few pieces of software that can help you achieve this on Windows and Mac without having any Apple TV hardware.
To do this, you'll want to download one of these applications:
- AirServer (airserver.com; $14.99, other license types available for education and business)
- Reflector (airsquirrels.com/reflector; $12.99)
These apps cost a little bit of money, but they can be run on both OS X and Windows. They also include a software version of AirPlay for iOS devices. To use AirPlay using one of these pieces of software, follow these steps:
- Open either AirServer or Reflector, and enable the server functionality
- Connect as you normally would to an Apple TV over AirPlay from your iOS device (follow the instructions above)
After doing this, a window will appear on your computer that contains the video, mirroring, or audio that's currently showing/playing on your iOS device. This means that you can connect your computer to a projector or TV and use it as a software-based AirPlay device, then connect to it from iOS devices to show videos, give presentations or demos, and use AirPlay mirroring.
The AirPlay functionality of iOS 7 is pretty incredible, and it allows you to ditch your laptop for presentations, playing videos, and even giving app demos. In addition, if you don't have an AirPlay video-capable device, you can use your computer with some special software to perform the same actions as an Apple TV.
AirPlay works with all modern iOS devices running iOS 4 and up for AirPlay audio and video, and iOS 5 and up for AirPlay mirroring. iOS 7 devices (iPad 2+, iPad mini, and iPhone 4s+) and modern Macs with Mountain Lion can use the full gamut of available AirPlay features, including mirroring.
If you're using AirPlay for presentations, be sure to check out "5 tips for creating successful presentations on the iPad."
Do you use AirPlay? Share any tips and/or tricks you may have for using AirPlay in the discussion thread below.
Cory Bohon is an indie developer, creating both iOS and OS X applications at Cocoa App (his own company), MartianCraft, and for various other clients. As a part of full disclosure, he does not write about any software that he has created or has helped to create through these outlets.
Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite technology part-time since 2007. He runs a development blog named ObjDev when he isn’t writing about consumer tech.