What Is Apple AirPlay?.
Sometimes the screen or speakers on your iPhone just won’t fit. If you’re out with family or friends, you can watch videos on the large TV in your living room or listen to songs through the speakers AirPlay can help you with both. It can even mirror your iPhone, iPad or Mac’s screen to your TV.
AirPlay is Apple‘s proprietary wireless broadcast protocol. Just like Google has Google Cast (which is different from Chromecast, a physical device). AirPlay is built into Apple devices such as Apple TV, iPhone, iPad and Mac. You can also use AirPlay on Windows using iTunes). And there are even some Smart TVs and speakers that support AirPlay.
What is AirPlay and AirPlay 2?
AirPlay is a protocol that has evolved over the years. AirPlay works locally using a Wi-Fi network. As long as all devices are on the same network, you can wirelessly stream video, audio, photos, or a screen to another device (for example, from an iPhone to a TV connected with Apple TV).
Once the broadcast starts, your main unit will act as a remote control. You can use the Now Playing widget to move forward or backward, and play or pause media playback.
The biggest AirPlay update came with AirPlay 2. AirPlay 2 brought multi-room audio support to AirPlay. From a single screen, you can independently control playback on multiple devices.
If you have multiple AirPlay 2 devices, you can sync and play audio on all of these devices at the same time, or you can have different media on different devices and still control it from the AirPlay menu on your iPhone or iPad.
How to use AirPlay on iPhone and iPad
If you’ve ever switched audio output to a Bluetooth headset or AirPods, you’ve already used AirPlay. Since Apple doesn’t name it, you might not be aware of it.
- To use AirPlay, you start with multimedia first. So, open the respective app and select the media you want to AirPlay.
- Then find the AirPlay button. For audio, this is a triangle surrounded by concentric circles. For video, this is a triangle surrounded by a rectangle (TV frame).
For example, in the Music app, you’ll find an AirPlay button at the bottom of the Now Playing screen.
- If you are using a third party application, you may see a different icon. For example, on YouTube, you have to tap the broadcast icon first and then select the AirPlay and Bluetooth option to go to the native AirPlay menu.
If you can’t find the AirPlay button in the app, don’t worry. You can skip the entire process and just use the Now Playing widget in the Control Center to play AirPlay content on your TV or speakers
- Swipe down from the top-right corner of your iPhone or iPad screen to open Control Center. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen if you’re using an iPhone with the Home button.
- Then click the small AirPlay icon in the upper right corner of the Now Playing widget.
- This will instantly open the AirPlay menu listing all available AirPlay devices. From here, just tap on your device to stream your media. If you are using AirPlay 2, you can also select multiple devices.
- If this is your first time connecting to Apple TV, you will need to enter the code shown on the Apple TV. After entering the code, press OK.
Now that media is playing on your TV or speakers, you can lock your iPhone or iPad. You can access the AirPlay menu from the Now Playing widget on the lock screen.
If you want to stop playing or change your device, you can press the AirPlay button on the lock screen (or in the app). Here, tap on your iPhone or iPad to stop streaming.
How to mirror iPhone or iPad screen using AirPlay
- Open Control Center by swiping down from the top-right corner of your iPhone or iPad. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen if you’re using an old iPhone with a Home button.
- Select the Screen Mirroring option here.
You can now go back and open the app to view the content on your TV screen (along with audio). The blue pill in the upper right corner will tell you if you are mirroring the screen.
To stop mirroring, return to Control Center and tap the Screen Mirroring option. Then click the Stop Mirroring button.
How to use AirPlay on a Mac
While your Mac also supports AirPlay, it works a little differently. If you have an AirPlay-enabled device, such as an Apple TV or Smart TV, on the same Wi-Fi network, a new AirPlay icon will automatically appear in the menu bar.
Unlike Control Center on iPhones and iPads, this menu is used for screen mirroring, not media streaming (more on this in the next section).
But that doesn’t mean you can’t stream videos or music using your Mac. It just happens using certain apps that support this feature. For example, you can stream videos to Apple TV (including YouTube videos) from the Safari browser, but not from Chrome.
The built-in iTunes app (as well as the Music, TV, and Podcasts apps on macOS Catalina and later) also supports AirPlay. In these apps, all you have to do is press the AirPlay button and select the AirPlay device as the output.
The media will play on your AirPlay device and you can control it from your Mac. If you want to stop broadcasting, go to the AirPlay menu in the menu bar and click the Stop AirPlay button.
How to mirror your Mac screen using AirPlay
But what if you want to watch Netflix on your TV using AirPlay, or you want to see a webpage or presentation on your TV? To do this, simply share your screen using AirPlay. Works instantly and wirelessly.
Click the AirPlay button in the menu bar and select a device. This will instantly start mirroring your screen.
You can enter this menu again to select the screen for mirroring (if you are using multiple monitors). From here, you can also click the Stop AirPlay button to stop screen sharing.
How do you plan to use AirPlay at home or in the office? Share with us in the comments below.