Blog Post

Video: Apple’s AirPlay is Kind of Pointless

Apple released its iOS 4.2 for the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone today, adding the ability to stream video from any of these devices to an Apple TV (s aapl). Many iPad and iPhone users had been excited about the possibilities of this feature, hoping it would enable them to stream almost anything they can watch on their touch screen device to the living room big screen.

However, we were pretty disappointed when we tested the feature today. Check out the video below for our first test:

Apps from Netflix, (s NFLX) Hulu Plus and ABC (s DIS) don’t support any AirPlay capabilities. At the same time, if you try to play video from any iPad-optimized websites, such as CBS (s CBS) or, all you get is the option to stream audio to the TV. Even the iPad YouTube (s GOOG) app, which was built by Apple, has subpar performance. Right now, AirPlay looks like a cool idea, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

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24 Responses to “Video: Apple’s AirPlay is Kind of Pointless”

  1. Starphish

    hey man, not pointless if you set up bose speakers on a an airport express. Its nice to control ATV from iphone and have it play on quality speaker as well as on the tv and computers, making it complete surround.

  2. Biggest reason for Airplay not supporting all video streaming is either App has not been updated (Like Netflix) or Big studio houses do not want to stream free web video to TV(like ABC). If the App developer start supporting this you will see more apps with AirPlay functionality.

  3. Haha, I see that the defenders of the Holy Apple are staying on task. :)

    PS: Roku has so much more to offer than the Apple TV does right now. I’m very happy that I bought one when the latest models came out.

  4. It makes sense that AirPlay has a hard time with YouTube and other apps that are accessing their content online. They are using wireless to access the content, process, then push back out over the same wireless to the AppleTV. Apple’s examples have all been with video that is locally stored on the iPad or iPhone, which would clearly have better performance. I’ll bet if you let a YouTube clip load all the way before AirPlay, you would get good performance.

  5. I agree with this post. You are in essence, using your iPhone or iPad to stream content on said phone or iPad that is already on your master computer, to an Apple TV or Airport Express. The Apple Remote app has always been able to do this same function, but it was playing the copy of the same content you have on your phone or iPad that was synced and stored on the old Apple TV. The new Apple TV cannot store anything on itself; it requires you to leave your computer on 24/7/365 for it to be able to do anything that does not cost money. Just exactly how, in any sensible way, is this any better than having all your content nicely stored on an Apple TV’s internal hard drive???

    • Hamranhansenhansen

      Because it works with arbitrary devices. For example, a guest comes to your house and you watch a movie and photos off their iPhone instantly. People already have content on the small, personal devices … AirPlay puts them on the bif communal screen whenever you like.

  6. Are you serious. A brand new technology is not widely adopted on launch day. I guess USB was also kind of pointless since on its launch day, only one or two devices supported it. What about Firewire? Oh and don’t forget TCP/IP. That must have been the king of disappointment since it was introduced about 10-20 years before most people could use it as the world wide web.

    Dont be a curmudgeon and be happy even one app works well (the built in iPod). Other will surely follow. Be happy ok.

  7. I agree that the AirPlay implementation for Safari is disappointing but otherwise i think this post is useless. Did you expect Apple to change the functionally of 3rd party apps out of a sudden? Maybe some of them have a reason that they don’t want to and Some (actually a lot) are using customized versions of the video player. AirPlay will find it’s way into 3rd party apps if it’s part of the SDK and if 3rd parties want to have AirPlay functionality. I guess there will be a wave of updates for video apps in the next couple of month.
    Besides, better check your network. The AirPlay function in the Youtube app works totally fine for me.

    • Sven

      I have had the same problem with the AirPlay and it is pretty limited. I have a very robust network at home and my web connection is about 75 Mbps.

      Secondly, I think developers had access to an early version of iOS 4.2 for a while and that is why it is surprising to see that there are so many bugs.

      • Om,

        Thanks for the reply. YouTube works really great for me. I don’t have to wait longer than 2 seconds to play something and my web connection is only 16 Mbps.

        About the SDK, this would mean no 3rd party application developer wants to make us of AirPlay. I doubt that this is true but even if that’s the case it would be fine. It would be wrong to force 3rd parties to make use of AirPlay since playing video on a big screen freaks some media guys out (see Google TV).

        I guess AirPlay is not 100% finished and that’s the reason it’s not available in the browser as of now. I have big hopes in AirPlay and i am sure we’ll see more and more apps making use of if in the next month.

    • From what I understood about the version of Airplay that shipped with the beta/developer releases of 4.2, it was supposed to stream anything that used the default iOS media player to the AppleTV. The released version seems like a change back to the model of each app having to build in Airplay functionality. I believe that is the source of the discontentment with Airplay we’re seeing on the web.

  8. I’m not an Apple person but am interested in seeing their new online video products. Yes this Airplay does seem pointless. I am using one of the Intel WiDi/Netgear Push2TV devices and it works really well. It streams everything and anything on my PC wirelessly to my TV with audio playing on the TV.