I have been enjoying the new AirPlay iPad and iPhone mirroring a little too much. Every since updating to iOS 5 on Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone, I have been using the AirPlay mirroring function every chance I get. In case you are unfamiliar with this new feature, AirPlay now lets you mirror any iOS 5 device through Apple TV to your big screen. This brings not just streaming video, photos, music from certain apps but from every app.
I have been using this new feature to browse the web, play games, check twitter, watch Hulu and YouTube, make music with Garageband, Face Time and more all on my 55″ TV. I am not sure how terribly practical all of this is in the long run but I am exploring the possibilities.
One use case that has been interesting in particular, is using the iPad and mirroring it to my Apple TV, then using my Bluetooth connected keyboard to use my big screen as an external large display for my iPad. In this use case I have responded to e-mail, wrote a column, and done general text entry using the iPad now on a large screen.
Again, this I’m sure is not something many are doing, or will want to do, I am simply exploring the possibilities.
In this experiment, I again have been debating in my head whether or not Apple needs to or should build an actual TV set. It seems to me that Apple TV as a set-top-box along with operating system mirroring could go along way in satisfying the needs of a TV solution.
This has also made for a great technical demo. Countless times now, when people were over, I have shown this demo and quickly brought up photos or video I just took on iPhone or iPad and brought them to the TV. Even just for fun I have showed off new apps using the TV rather than just showing people on my phone. Again, not terribly practical but fun.
As much as I have been having fun with this experiment it needs to improve in several ways.
First of all, I’d like to see my iPad or iPhone mirroring go full screen on the TV. There are obvious technical challenges involved with this but they are ones which can be solved. As you can see from this image I have my Hulu+ app on my TV using AirPlay mirroring but there are black bars on the side.
When using the iPad this was less of a big deal as the screen is larger but with the iPhone using mirroring is almost pointless because it is so small.
Another change that needs to be made is when the iPad goes to sleep, Apple TV mirroring goes off. In many cases where I was typing with an external keyboard for example, I was not actively using the iPad screen. I’d like to still use iOS mirroring in many cases even if the iPad or iPhone goes to sleep.
I’d really like to see perhaps a split screen, with iOS and my live or broadcast TV done better. It would be interesting to be able to watch TV, whether recorded or live, and have something like the Twitter app or Facebook app up on the screen simultaneously. I know certain TV’s from Samsung and a few others can run apps but doing this without the need for a new TV using what I have (Apple TV and an iPad) is a better value proposition.
Lastly, I would like the same iOS mirroring on Apple TV with OSX. I’d like to be able to do something similar to what Intel offers with Wi-Di, where you can mirror your notebook to the TV.
After seeing iOS on my TV, I am absolutely convinced it belongs on my TV. Using apps on the big screen has been a fascinating experience. I literally can not wait for the day when iOS developers can write apps specifically for the TV.
Another interesting take-away has been notifications. As I have been doing app mirroring and using the Hulu app for example, I have found it valuable to see a quick alert from either a news source, email, twitter etc. My wife finds it annoying but just the experience of seeing notifications of things I care to be notified of, on my TV while being entertained, was interesting.
This experience has shown me a vision of what I believe a more encompassing Apple TV experience could provide. Apple is clearly only scratching the surface with iOS mirroring on Apple TV and I am excited about the possibilities.
Just to show it, here is Face Time and the Writer App on my TV.