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What is AirPlay and how do I use it on iPhone, iPad, and Mac?

Apple wants to take us to a world where cables are a thing of the past, a world where wireless technologies reign supreme and we can move seamlessly with our devices.

In addition to the advantage of mobility, the absence of cables has other advantages such as more cleanliness and order in work areas, offices and of course also in the living room of any house by avoiding cables to connect certain devices.

What is AirPlay and how do I use it on iPhone, iPad, and Mac?
What is AirPlay and how do I use it on iPhone, iPad, and Mac?

How many times have you seen a computer connected to a TV through an annoying cable (HDMI or other type of connector)? Surely many times and AirPlay is a technology developed by Apple with which you can avoid it very easily.

Are you an iPhone, iPad or Mac user and still not familiar with this technology? Then read on and find out what it can do for you.

What is AirPlay?

Without getting into complex technicalities, AirPlay is a technology developed by Apple that allows content to be sent wirelessly from one device to another .

AirPlay requires two compatible devices (a sender and a receiver) connected to a common local network (usually WiFi, although it also works over ethernet) for proper operation.

The possibilities of this technology are very big as you can see in the following sections.

What is AirPlay for?

Basically AirPlay allows content to be played from one device and displayed on another . The most typical example is starting playback of a movie or series on an iPhone and showing it directly on a TV that has an Apple TV connected to it.

Thanks to this it is possible to view contents stored on the smartphone directly on a large screen like those we usually have in the living room, through a projector or similar.

But that’s not all AirPlay allows. It also offers other possibilities such as duplicating screen on an external device so that the same thing looks the same on, for example, an iPhone and a TV or a Mac and an external screen. Of course wirelessly and avoiding compatibility problems between connectors (something important for Macs considering that adapters are needed in most situations).

Another possibility of AirPlay is to create a dual screen system for certain apps and games. For example in apps for presentations it is possible to use an iPhone or iPad as a remote control for slideshows or even to control video playback.

For some games that support this feature, the game screen may be displayed on a remote device (the clearest example is on a TV that receives the AirPlay streaming signal through an Apple TV) and the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch may act as the game controller.

Another noteworthy feature of AirPlay is that it can be used to play music wirelessly with compatible speakers . This allows you to start playing a song on an iPhone and have it play through WiFi speakers that you can have anywhere in your home or office.

How does AirPlay work?

The operation of AirPlay is quite simple and very intuitive. The basic thing to make it work is that the transmitter and the receiver are connected to the same local network (it can be through WiFi or in the case of Mac or Apple TV also through ethernet cable).

Once this requirement has been met, we must differentiate between two options:

Apps without AirPlay (duplicate screen)

There are lots of apps that don’t have AirPlay technology built in, but fortunately it can still be used, albeit with one major limitation, which is that it can only be accessed in screen mirroring mode.

This means that in the receiver screen will look exactly the same as in the transmitter .

To activate the option in iOS, all you have to do is open the Control Center and tap on the Screen Duplication option . A pop-up menu will appear in which you must choose the device to which you want to send the AirPlay signal . Once selected the broadcast will start immediately and everything you run on the iOS device will be shown on the external display.

In the case of macOS the steps are a little different. The first thing is to access System Preferences by clicking on the menu with the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen. Once inside click on Screens and in the drop down menu AirPlay Screen select the output device.

Apps with integrated AirPlay.

In the case of the apps with AirPlay integrated the process is different in each application, although what you have to do basically is run the app and look for the option that allows you to activate this technology to start the wireless transmission through it.

AirPlay 2?

AirPlay 2 is an evolution of this technology that will arrive together with iOS 11 . It is a new version that Apple has developed to mark the arrival of the HomePod, the wireless speaker with Siri that the company will launch on the market at the end of the year.

With the first generation of AirPlay it is only possible to send content from one device to another, but this second generation breaks this limitation in sending audio.

AirPlay 2 offers support multi-room , an enhancement aimed at homes where there is more than one compatible wireless speaker and which will allow you to select which speaker you want to play your music on .

Do you have a speaker in the kitchen and another in the living room? Maybe one in the garden too? With AirPlay 2, you can choose which speaker(s) to use at any given time.

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