iOS 4.3 brings expanded AirPlay support to Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices, so long as you have hardware new enough to support the update. AirPlay allows you to stream audio and video content from your iOS device to another screen, be it your TV, computer or another iOS device, depending on what hardware you have at your disposal. Since third-party apps can now get in on the AirPlay action, it’s a good time to look at just how to get the new feature up and running, especially since it cut help you cut the cord and ditch your cable subscription.
First things first. In order to get AirPlay working, you’ll need the following:
- An iOS device capable of running iOS 4.2 (iPhone 3G, 3GS or 4, iPod touch 2nd, 3rd or 4th gen, iPad or iPad 2)
- An app capable of using AirPlay. These include the built-in YouTube or Video app, some sites in Safari, or iMovie from Apple. Air Video and some other apps from third-party developers also support video streaming if you’re running iOS 4.3, but many more apps that play media should be able to stream audio.
- AirPlay-capable receiver device. This could be an Apple TV (latest model only), an AirPlay-enabled receiver (audio only), a Mac running AirPlayer, or a second iOS device using AirTuner or AirView (these options currently only support video)
- A local Wi-Fi network you have access to, to which all of the devices mentioned above are connected
Your next step is to make sure AirPlay is active on your receiving device. On the Apple TV, you can do this by navigating to the Settings menu, and selecting AirPlay. You should now see whether or not AirPlay is turned on. If it isn’t, go ahead and make the necessary change, and set a password if you’d like to require authorization to use AirPlay.
If you’re using apps on either your Mac or your iOS device, go ahead and launch the app before you try to stream anything to your device. If you’re using an AirPlay-enabled home theatre receiver, consult your device’s manual for specific instructions.
Instructions for Video
- Once your receiving device is ready to go, streaming content from your iOS device should be fairly easy. Open the app of your choice (must be a native Apple app if you’re using iOS 4.2) and play back media as you normally would. You should see a screen that looks more or less like this:
- If you’re viewing on an iPad, chances are the video might not be displaying in full screen. Here’s what it might look like in that case:
- In either case, if you aren’t seeing controls on the video you’re viewing, just tap the video once to bring them up. At the bottom right, there’s an icon of a rectangle with an inset solid triangle. This is the AirPlay button:
- Tap that button to bring up your AirPlay receiver options. It should list all your available devices, complete with an icon of a speaker for those that only support audio, and a TV screen for those that support video. Tap on the option of your choice.
- Your video should start playing back on the new device after a brief delay while your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad sends the information to the receiver over your Wi-Fi network. You can control playback of the media using your iOS device, or using your Apple TV’s remote (provided you’re streaming to an Apple TV).
Instructions for Audio
- Using your built-in iPod app on your iOS device, tap the same AirPlay icon on the playback screen after you’ve selected your music. Choose one of the destination options provided to begin streaming music.
- Third-party apps that support audio streaming via AirPlay will also have this icon included among their playback controls. The screenshot below shows where it is in the popular TuneIn internet radio app for iPhone.
AirPlay is one of the better new features Apple has introduced to iOS lately, but it doesn’t do much good if you don’t know how to use it. Hopefully this guide helps you get it up and running, and helps you free your media just a little bit more.