What is Apple AirPlay?

Sometimes the screen or speakers on your iPhone don’t work. If you’re gathering with family or friends, you might want to watch videos on the big TV in your living room, or you might want to listen to songs on your speakers. AirPlay can help you with both of these. It can even mirror your iPhone, iPad or Mac screen to the TV.

AirPlay is Apple’s wireless transmission protocol. Just like Google has Google Cast (different from Chromecast, physical devices). AirPlay is built-in to 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 & AirPlay 2?

AirPlay is a protocol that has evolved over the years. AirPlay works locally, using Wi-Fi networks. As long as all devices are on the same network, you should be able to wirelessly stream your video, audio, photos, or screen to another device (say, from your iPhone to your TV connected using Apple TV). ).

Once the transfer 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.

The biggest update to AirPlay comes with AirPlay 2. AirPlay 2 brings multi-room audio support to AirPlay. From one screen, you can independently control playback on multiple devices.

If you have multiple AirPlay 2 devices, you can sync and play audio to all of them at once, or you can have different media on different devices and still control it from AirPlay menu on your iPhone or iPad.

Here is a list of supported Apple AirPlay 2 devices: TV, speaker.

How to Use AirPlay on iPhone and iPad

If you’ve ever switched the audio output to your Bluetooth headphones or AirPods, you’ve used the AirPlay feature. Since Apple doesn’t name it, you might not know about it.

  1. To use AirPlay, you first start with media. So open the respective app and select the media you want to AirPlay.
  1. Then find the AirPlay button. As for the sound, it’s a triangle surrounded by concentric circles. For video, it’s a triangle surrounded by a rectangle (TV frame).
AirPlay icon

For example, in the Music app, you’ll find an AirPlay button at the bottom of the Now Playing screen.

AirPlay icon in Music app
  1. If you’re using a third-party app, you may see a different icon. For example, on YouTube, you’ll first have to tap Cast icon, then select AirPlay & Bluetooth Devices option to access the original AirPlay menu.
A visual guide to connecting to AirPlay in YouTube

If you can’t find the AirPlay button in an app, don’t worry. You can skip the whole process and just use the Now Playing widget in Control Center to play AirPlay content to your TV or speakers.

  1. Swipe down from the upper-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 a Home button.
  2. Then a little touch AirPlay icon in the upper right corner of the Now Playing widget.
  3. This will immediately open the AirPlay menu that will list all available AirPlay devices. From here, just tap a device to stream media. If you’re using AirPlay 2, you can also select multiple devices.
A visual guide to using AirPlay in Control Center
  1. If this is your first time connecting to an Apple TV, you’ll have to enter the code shown on the Apple TV. Press ALRIGHT after entering the code.
AirPlay code window

Now that the 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.

AirPlay Utility

If you want to stop playback or change the device, you can tap AirPlay from the lock screen (or app). Here, tap your iPhone or iPad to stop casting.

How to mirror your iPhone or iPad screen using AirPlay

The best and only official way to mirror your iPhone or iPad screen to your TV is to use AirPlay and an Apple TV or Smart TV that supports AirPlay 2).

  1. 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 older iPhone using the Home button.
  2. Here, select Screen mirroring right to buy.
Screen mirroring in Control Center

You can now go back and open an app to watch TV content (along with audio). A blue pill in the upper right corner will let you know if you’re mirroring your screen.

To stop mirroring, go back to Control Center and tap Screen mirroring right to buy. Then tap Stop mirroring button.

Reflection stop button

How to Use AirPlay on 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 the Control Center feature on iPhone and iPad, this menu is used to mirror your screen, not cast media (more on that in the next section).

But that doesn’t mean you can’t stream video or music using your Mac. It only happens when using specific apps that support this feature. For example, you can cast videos to Apple TV (including YouTube videos) from the Safari browser, but not Chrome.

AirPlay button in YouTube

The built-in iTunes app (and the Music, TV, and Podcast apps in macOS Catalina and later) also support AirPlay. In these apps, all you have to do is click AirPlay and select an AirPlay device as the output.

AirPlay menu with Living room checkbox

The media will play on the AirPlay device and you’ll be able to control it from your Mac. If you want to stop transmission, go to AirPlay in the menu bar and click Stop AirPlay button.

Stop AirPlay in the menu

How to Mirror Your Mac’s Screen Using AirPlay

But what if you want to watch Netflix on your TV using AirPlay, or you want to watch a web page or presentation on your TV? For this, just share your screen using AirPlay. It works instantly and wirelessly.

Click AirPlay from the menu bar and select a device. This will immediately start mirroring your screen.

Living room in the AirPlay menu

You can enter this menu again to choose which screen to mirror (if you are using multiple monitors). From here you can also click Stop AirPlay to stop screen sharing.

Stop AirPlay option in menu

How do you plan to use AirPlay in your home or office? Share with us in the comments section below.

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