Glossary

AirPlay

What is AirPlay?

AirPlay is Apple's proprietary streaming protocol. It allows users to stream various media between iPhones, iPads, and computers running the company's OS to receivers such as the Apple TV, smart speakers, TVs, and audio systems. Receivers are not restricted to the brand's ecosystem, and include select models by industry players such as Bang & Olufsen, Bose, Sonos, Samsung, LG, and Sony.

Users may choose to mirror their screens or play specific content (such as videos, photos, music, presentations, spreadsheets) from their Apple gadgets, which can still be used for other tasks during AirPlay. The technology first required a connection to the same Wi-Fi network for device communication. However, the protocol's current generation (AirPlay 2) enables streaming via Wi-Fi Direct – which, as the name suggests, is a direct wireless link that does not require a router or external service provider.

AirPlay can be accessed via a shortcut on the source device or with the help of Apple's smart assistant, Siri. Some receivers, such as the Sonos One, can communicate directly with Siri, but this is not the case for every AirPlay-compatible third-party product.

AirPlay can also stream distinct content to different receivers at the same time – playing, for instance, a podcast through a speaker in the kitchen, and a series episode on a smart TV in the living room. If the user so wishes, AirPlay can also "learn" your favorite receivers as you use the technology, playing various types of content where you're most likely to access them.

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