When Apple announced the new Apple TV, the company did not highlight Airplay, which was one of the most popular features of the old model. Apple is, however, planning a major overhaul of Airplay to make it faster and easier to use, according to 9to5mac.
Airplay improvements coming
Apple has not forgotten about Airplay, its wireless system to push video, music and photos to the Apple TV and Airplay-enabled speakers. In fact, the company has made “wide-sweeping change to underlying protocols that power Airplay”, explains a developer and CEO at Squirrels, the company behind the Reflector app. Apple has not detailed the changes in its developer documentation.
Today, every time you Airplay copyrighted content to an Apple TV or Airplay-speaker the devices need to go through a key exchange procedure that usually takes 2-3 seconds. The developer explains that Apple is now using a pair-once approach, which means that an iPhone or iPad would not have to go through the “full key exchange” every time you use Airplay. The changes will make Airplay a faster and smoother experience.
- “We discovered AirPlay has improved security, it’s faster and it improves overall performance. Using some of the new security features Apple implemented, the whole stack moves a lot faster. It allows for more interesting things like one-time pairing. That means less battery drainage and faster encryption and connection… This protocol is designed from the ground up for existing wifi, wifi direct, AWDL (Apple’s own wifi direct used for AirDrop and other features), Bluetooth, and even USB CarPlay and QuickTime. It is clear Apple sees a future of pairing all of your devices together in one easy to use network,” Dave Stanfill, CEO of Squirrels explained to 9to5mac.
All apps using Airplay will continue to work – just faster. However, the changes may break some apps that are using Airplay Mirroring, which allows you to mirror your entire iPhone, iPad or Mac screen on the TV. App developers using mirroring will have to implement changes before iOS 9 is released.
Why Apple has made changes to Airplay is not clear but it is speculated that it has something to do with HomeKit and game controllers. Airplay has been available for years but has not been expanded for some time. There is still no support for multiroom speaker setups.