What is AirPlay? Apple’s streaming tech explained

Joel Loynds

Wondering what Apple’s AirPlay is and how to use it? Here’s a complete guide to AirPlay, how it works, and you can benefit from it.

AirPlay is Apple‘s masterstroke in the world of casting – sending video, audio, or other media wirelessly to a different device. 

With AirPlay, you can cast your favorite movie or videos from your iPhone, Mac, or iPad onto the TV in your living room or listen to tracks on HomePod or any other compatible device.

It’s similar to Google’s Chromecast way of doing things but with an Apple-only restriction. But there’s more to the story – AirPlay’s roots extend back to 2004, and it has evolved to become a very useful feature.

AirPlay explained

Once called ‘AirTunes’, the feature was later rebranded as AirPlay in 2010. It was originally designed so that iTunes could use your network to beam over to an AirPort Express, connected to a pair of speakers.

From here, the need for an AirPort Express was reduced, as Apple began to open the boundaries outside of its own products. It wasn’t until it launched on iOS devices in version 4 that it would support video being cast to an Apple TV.

AirPlay 2

In 2018, AirPlay 2 was released and so was support for non-Apple products. Examples include things like certain Roku sticks now have it embedded in, allowing streaming of content on a more open basis.

Companies that adopted it included Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio, who all embedded it into their TVs from 2019 onwards.

AirPlay, once set up, can be controlled from a singular device, as well as through Siri, rather than being limited to macOS and Windows via iTunes. This coincided with the reduced need for iTunes in Apple’s ecosystem.

macOS becomes a receiver

You can now even use your Mac with macOS Monterey to stream content from your phone and iPad straight to the Mac, saving you time and effort in grabbing an Apple TV to stream off of.

Once hooked up over HDMI to another device, you’ll be able to mirror screens, cast content, and more over the device. We also were surprised to find it in the XGIMI projector we reviewed a while ago.

Also, make sure to check out our other guides:

How to force quit on Mac | How to make mac dark mode | How to show hidden files on Mac | How to check AirPods battery level | Silence notifications on iPhone |  How to turn iPhone off | How to share location on iPhone | How to delete contacts on iPhone |  How to make folders on iPhone

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About The Author

E-Commerce Editor. You can get in touch with him over email: joel.loynds@dexerto.com. He's written extensively about video games and tech for over a decade for various sites. Previously seen on Scan, WePC, PCGuide, Eurogamer, Digital Foundry and Metro.co.uk. A deep love for old tech, bad games and even jankier MTG decks.