How to use Apple AirPlay and AirPlay 2

How to use Apple's AirPlay or AirPlay 2 to stream music and more

how to use airplay 11

If you own an iOS device such as an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you need to know about Apple’s AirPlay and AirPlay 2. These technologies are like an invisible cable that let you send music, movies and more from your iOS device to a compatible speaker or TV. You can even share the entire contents of your screen, making it the perfect way to show demonstrations to large groups of people. But what exactly is AirPlay, what kinds of things can you do with it, and how do you use it? Glad you asked! We’ve got all of the answers right here, and it won’t take long at all for you to become an AirPlay expert. Ready?

What is AirPlay?

how to use airplay icons

AirPlay, and its more advanced successor, AirPlay 2, are technologies Apple invented to let people wirelessly transmit audio and video from their iOS devices to nearby speakers and screens. The iOS device is considered the AirPlay “sender” and the speaker or TV is considered the AirPlay “receiver.” If you own an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, with iOS 4.2 or later (which should pretty much be everybody who owns one of these devices) you already have AirPlay built in. As we mentioned in the intro, think of AirPlay as an invisible cable connecting your iOS device to the device you want to watch or listen on, because that’s almost exactly the right analogy. There are two distinct ways to use AirPlay: As a way to stream audio and video, and as a way to mirror your device’s entire screen. We’ll discuss the differences between these two use types below.

What’s the difference between AirPlay and AirPlay 2?

AirPlay 2 gives you a few more choices over where and how you stream your content. Some features, like creating a stereo pair from two wireless speakers, are only possible using AirPlay 2. While AirPlay is already in use on plenty of third-party wireless speakers for audio, over the coming months and years, you can expect to see AirPlay 2 streaming both video and audio to multiple third-party smart TVs and streaming devices. We’ve got a periodically updated list of smart TVs that have or will be getting AirPlay 2, and here’s a list of companies that have embedded the technology into their wireless speakers, A/V receivers, and more.

Is AirPlay just for iOS devices?

No. Any second-generation Intel Core (or newer) Mac computer or laptop running OS X Mountain Lion or later can use AirPlay for screen mirroring. Any computer — whether it’s a Mac or a PC — can use AirPlay to stream music if it has Apple’s free iTunes software installed, and with iTunes going away in macOS Catalina, we expect this will to be embedded in one or more of its replacement apps. Apple TV and Apple TV 4K devices are also AirPlay-enabled, though they’re special in the AirPlay world, as they’re both receivers and senders.

If you do some Googling, you’ll also find a huge community of hardware and software developers who have discovered ingenious ways to bring AirPlay sending and receiving to other gadgets, but none of these are officially supported by Apple, so your results may vary if you decide to go down that road.

What kind of things can I do with AirPlay?

how to use airplay 2

Streaming audio and video is pretty vague language so here are some specific examples of exactly what you can do with AirPlay:

  • Watching Netflix: When watching a movie or TV show on the Netflix app on your iOS device, you can AirPlay the audio and video to your TV via an Apple TV set-top box.
  • Getting better sound for YouTube: When watching a video on the YouTube app, you can AirPlay just the audio to a set of wireless speakers for a much more immersive experience than listening to the built-in speaker on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Surfing together: Let’s say you’re planning a road trip with friends. Instead of a big group of people huddling around a 13-inch laptop to look at a map, you can mirror the entire screen using AirPlay to a 65-inch TV, via an Apple TV (or directly if your TV has AirPlay 2 built-in).
  • Multiroom party: Open the Spotify app and pick your favorite playlist. AirPlay that music to every wireless speaker in your house, without any annoying delays and echoes.

How do I use AirPlay on my iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch?

how to use airplay 9

Using AirPlay couldn’t be easier, but you will need at least three things before you begin:

  • Your iOS device (obviously)
  • A Wi-Fi network (AirPlay requires Wi-Fi)
  • An AirPlay or AirPlay 2-compatible receiving device like a wireless speaker, Apple TV, or smart TV (make sure they’re plugged in and powered on)

how to use airplay 6Example 1: Mirroring your iPhone to your TV via Apple TV

  • Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to see the iOS Control Center.
  • Tap the Screen Mirroring button.
  • In the following window, choose your target device which in this case is an Apple TV.
  • That’s it — your iPhone’s screen should now be displayed on your TV
  • Pro tip: If you don’t like how it looks when in a vertical orientation, simply turn your phone sideways and the image on your TV will do the same.

Example 2: Listening to Apple Music on a wireless speaker

  • Open the Apple Music app.
  • Pick a song, album, or playlist to play.
  • On the Now Playing screen, tap the AirPlay Audio icon.
  • In the following window, choose your target audio device
  • Tap anywhere outside the window to return to the Apple Music app.
  • You’ll now see that the AirPlay Audio icon is showing that you’re connected to Dining Room.
  • Hit the Play button, and that’s it.
  • Pro tip: You can swipe up from the bottom of your screen any time you’re playing audio on your iOS device to access the AirPlay Audio control.

Example 3: Watch a YouTube video on your iPad while playing the audio through your wireless speakers

  • Open the YouTube app.
  • Pick a video to play.
  • Tap the AirPlay Video icon in the bottom right corner of the video window.
  • In the following menu, choose your target audio device.
  • The audio will begin playing on your chosen speaker.
  • You could also do it by swiping up at any time from the bottom of the screen to access the Control Center, and pick your speaker (or TV) from the list.

How do I use AirPlay from an Apple TV?

how to use airplay tvos12 3 apple tv 4gen movie playing audio select speaker

The Apple TV and Apple TV 4K are already set up to act as AirPlay receivers for audio and video, but they can also be used as senders, although just for audio. You might want to do this if you don’t own a soundbar or an A/V receiver, but you do have some AirPlay 2 compatible speakers, such Apple’s HomePod.

To stream the audio for a movie or show you’re watching:

  • While watching, swipe down on your Apple TV remote.
  • Select Audio.
  • Select each speaker or TV that you want to send the audio to.

To stream the audio for music that you’re listening to:

  • Swipe down on your Apple TV remote.
  • Select the AirPlay Audio button.
  • Select each speaker or TV that you want to play the audio to.
  • Pro tip: You can also press and hold on your Apple TV remote and select a speaker.

What else can AirPlay do?

With Apple’s new open stance to third-party A/V products via AirPlay 2, this technology is finally coming into its own as a way to manage multiple A/V devices around the home. We’ll be updating this article on a regular basis as new features are added, and new products are welcomed into the AirPlay family. Check back here for all the latest AirPlay news.


Apple's iOS 13 Beta 2 is available to developers -- here are the changes

Apple announced iOS 13 during the keynote presentation at its 2019 Worldwide Developer Conference. This is the next version of its mobile operating system, which will come to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod near you soon.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2019, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR and much more.

Apple Music vs. Spotify: Which service is the streaming king?

Apple Music is giving Spotify a run for its money, but which service is best for you? In our Apple Music vs. Spotify showdown, we compare and contrast all we know about the two streaming music services.

Best Father’s Day sales: Apple iPad, Ring security, and 4K TV deals

Father's Day sales started early, but now retail titans Amazon, Walmart, and Best Buy have turned up the heat. We found outstanding sales on top electronics with free, fast shipping in all categories and cherry-picked the best deals.
Movies & TV

Prime-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite TV series currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Experience 4K on the cheap with this great deal on a 55-inch Samsung 4K Smart TV

Retailers are stumbling over each other to encourage you to buy a 4K TV. Walmart is the latest retailer to take a sledgehammer to its prices, knocking $100 off the 55-inch Samsung UN55NU6900 4K TV — a deal that's not to be missed.
Home Theater

Comcast lets people with physical disabilities control a TV with just a glance

Comcast is now making it a little easier for people with physical disabilities to watch TV by giving them a way to connect their existing assistive devices like eye-glance systems with their Comcast cable boxes.
Movies & TV

GLOW season 3 trailer sends everyone to Vegas, brings on Geena Davis

Netflix released the first trailer season 3 of GLOW, its hit series about a group of female professional wrestlers in the 1980s, inspired by the real-world show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. The season premieres August 9.

Looking for a new smart TV? Don’t miss this fantastic deal on a 60-inch Vizio 4K TV

This 60-inch Vizio D-Series has a sticker price of $700, a significant amount less than the $1,500-plus price tag that would have once been attached to it, but it's now on sale for just $480 — down $220.
Movies & TV

These are the best comedies on Netflix right now, and that's no joke

Looking for a laugh? Lucky for you, Netflix offers an assortment of comedies, each designed to elicit laughs in one way or another. Here are our current favorites, from Pineapple Express to The Emperor's New Groove.
Home Theater

What is Dolby Atmos Music, and how can you experience it?

Dolby Atmos is a surround sound format that creates immersive, 3D soundtracks to make movies come alive. But the same technology is also being adopted for music creation, and it's a game-changer. Here's everything you need to know.
Home Theater

WarnerMedia just bought a $500 million weapon to fight Netflix: J.J. Abrams

By signing a $500 million deal with J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot production company, WarnerMedia proves that it's doing everything it can to compete with Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus for a share of your streaming budget.

This gorgeous 65-inch LG 4K TV gets a steep $200 price cut at Walmart

There's no doubt about it: Now is the best time to purchase a 4K TV. Networks all around the world are churning out 4K content at warp speed and prices of 4K TVs are on the decline, like this 65-inch LG.
Home Theater

Picture-in-picture reportedly headed to Apple TV in tvOS 13

When tvOS 13 is released to a general audience this fall, it could be sporting a previously undisclosed feature: Picture-in-picture mode. It was spotted in an early developer release and it reportedly only works in the TV App.