AirPlay is here, and video streaming just got easy. It's a simple, elegant solution to home video sharing—with a few kinks (for now). We've got your AirPlay hands on covered, plus burning questions answered. Let's get streaming.
For the most part, AirPlay is an extremely snappy way of pushing video from your iOS device (or OS X computer) to your TV. You bring up the movie the way you would normally, only now there's a new button. An AirPlay button. Click it, select your Apple TV, and, after a bit of buffering, you'll be watching on the big screen.
Overall, AirPlay delivers. Streaming video to your TV is nothing new, but it's never been this much of a breeze. One-touch streaming feels good, and takes the setup headache out of the equation. There are a few annoyances, and waiting for buffers sucks here as much as it'd suck anywhere else, but after a wave or two of software updates, but AirPlay delivers. And as we mentioned earlier, this is only the start.
I've Got Some Questions...
Which apps currently support AirPlay?
If Apple made it, it works splendidly. The iPad's native Videos and YouTube apps stream effortlessly, as did our iPhone's video and YouTube app functionality. Ditto for iTunes.
Everything else doesn't exactly work at this time though. Your favorite video apps, like Netflix and VLC, will only send audio to your TV, leaving video confined to your iOS device. We're expecting software updates to take care of this, but for the time being, your non-Apple apps are out in the cold.
What do I need to make AirPlay work?
An Apple TV with iOS 4.1 installed, An iOS device running iOS 4.2.1 OR A computer running OS X and iTunes 10.1, a television with HDMI input, a network connection (Wi-Fi or ethernet).
Can I use AirPlay to record and stream video simultaneously?
Can I stream movies recorded on my iPhone via AirPlay?
No. Seriously. You can beam photos taken on your iPhone over AirPlay, but there is no option to stream video you've just recorded. We really hope this changes in the future.
Can I stream videos which are playing in the Safari browser over AirPlay?
Not exactly. We found that our experience with videos played in the Safari browser was similar to that with videos played in third-party apps: Audio-only. Hopefully this'll be fixed in a future software update.
Can an Apple TV remote control the device sending AirPlay media?
Yes! An Apple TV remote can control the device that's sending airplay video. So if you're watching a video that's on your iPhone, you can use the Apple TV remote to pause, play, skip and so on.
Is there a difference in AirPlay streaming quality between devices?
Not as far as we could tell. Over a solid network, there shouldn't be any appreciable AirPlay discrepancies.
Can I control an AirPlay device with two different gadgets?
No. An AirPlay device which is currently being controlled by a gadget can't be controlled by another gadget at the same time.
Which gadgets offer support for AirPlay technology right now?
At the moment, the only AirPlay-capable devices are the iPhone 4, iPhone 3Gs, iPad, fourth-generation iPod touch (running iOS 4.2), or a Mac running iTunes 10.1
Which kind of hardware will have support for AirPlay technology?
For now, count on audio AirPlay showing up in receivers, speakers, and audio docks from a variety of companies—like Denon, Marantz, Bowers & Wilkins, JBL, and iHome. We wouldn't bet on video streaming any time soon, however—at this point, that's Apple TV's shiniest feature.
Do I need iTunes to make AirPlay work?
Not directly. You'll need iTunes to load media onto your iOS device, of course, but once it's there, you can shut off your computer and stream away.
Can I play the same song or video on multiple AirPlay gadgets?
We weren't able to test this directly, but as far as we can tell, no. When you hit the AirPlay button, you're given the option of selecting compatible devices from a list—hit your Apple TV, and it beams your media right to it. No option for multiple broadcasts (yet).
Will my iOS device's battery life drastically degrade from AirPlay use?
We haven't had a chance to test this definitively, but we would guess that, yes, AirPlay will punch your battery a little harder than if your iOS device were just idling—that wireless antenna is getting a workout, after all.