How does Airplay work and which devices can use it?

AirPlay is a proprietary wireless technology developed by Apple to stream content wirelessly between compatible devices that share a network. These devices can be your MacBook transmit a document to an AirPlay compatible printer, a iPhone stream music to wireless speakers in your home, or your office Mac streaming an HD movie to your TV.

AirPlay or AirPlay 2.0 is one of the operating systems used by all Mac computers and iOS mobile devices. As long as they’re on the same network, any of these devices can stream content to each other and to any AirPlay-enabled device that’s also on the network.

How can music be transmitted?

For digital music, you can stream it to your Apple TV-equipped TV, share it with other devices using an Airport Express, or listen to it through AirPlay-enabled speakers. With AirPlay 2, you can stream digital music to multiple rooms with AirPlay-enabled speakers at the same time, or directly to headphones available from most major headphone manufacturers.

Hardware devices that use AirPlay

As with any wireless network, you need one device to transmit information and another to receive it:

  • AirPlay sending hardware: Apple portable devices running the iOS operating system (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) are streamers. They must be running iOS version 4.2 or higher. A Mac or Windows computer running iTunes can also be set up as an AirPlay sending device. Apple TV 4K and fourth-generation Apple TV can also stream.
  • AirPlay receiving hardware: Apple TV (all models except first generation), Airport Express, and AirPlay-enabled speakers are receivers. Most home printers are compatible with AirPlay. With AirPlay 2, stream to the Apple HomePod speaker and take a call or play a game without interrupting the music.

Can AirPlay stream metadata?

Yes you can. For example, if you use Apple TV to stream music, videos, and photos from your iOS device to your HDTV, they may show metadata such as song title, artist and genre.

Album art can also be streamed and viewed using AirPlay. The JPEG image format is used for send the cover.

What audio format is used?

To stream digital music via Wi-Fi, AirPlay orUses Real-Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP). lossless audio codec Manzana is used via the UDP transport layer protocol to transmit two audio channels to 44100 hertz.

Audio data is encrypted by the AirPlay server device, which uses a private key-based encryption system.

How to Use AirPlay to Mirror Your Mac Screen

You can use AirPlay to mirror your Mac screen to an Apple TV-equipped projector or TV, which is handy when giving presentations or training groups of employees. When both devices are powered on and connected to the same Wi-Fi network, click the AirPlay status menu in the Mac’s menu bar and select your projector or TV from the drop-down menu.

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