With introduction of iOS 5 Apple added one feature that immediately made me lust for an Apple TV: AirPlay mirroring. This is simply a way to mirror your iPhone (4S only at the moment) or iPad (2/new only) on your TV. Wirelessly. To me, this is a feature that may define iOS in an enterprise situation. Imagine rocking up to a meeting with nothing but your iPad (or iPhone), no laptop or, if your a Mac user, pesky mini display adapter, just you and your iPad and seamlessly displaying your presentation in all it glory. Wirelessly. Yes, I know this dream requires every single company to adopt iOS and Apple TV, but for me this would be a no brainer, particularly with the recent advent of bring your own technology.
Some phone manufacturers are keen on integrating new pico projectors into mobile devices. Although I can certainly see the benefits of having a projector everywhere you go, I’d choose a full HD display to watch media and presentations over a washed out projector any day.
Now here’s my issue. You might have noticed that mirroring an app on your TV displays the app in the iPad’s and iPhone’s native aspect ratio of 4:3 (see top image), and if you have a widescreen or 16:9 TV this leaves huge borders on the screen. Well, Developers have access to the mirroring API, allowing them to create a unique experience on the iPad and utilise the full screen on your TV. Some apps use it to great effect: FireMint’s Real Racing 2, the recently released Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy, and the IMDb app. And yet most developers aren’t offering this in their apps, and I think they’re missing a trick.
In fact even Apple aren’t great at creating mirroring apps, the only two I’ve found on my iPad are Keynote (goes without saying really), and strangely the new iPhoto app, which displays your currently viewed photo. Why not iMovie? It would be great to display the edited movie on my tv ready for playback, or even GarageBand? I just feel that we have this amazing functionality which no one is utilising, and those that are appear to be mostly game developers.
I’m not a developer, and it’s possible that I’m asking for too much. Maybe I should just be happy for a stable app, I dare say the number of developers utilising it will rise. But I think Apple have something up their sleeves, this goes back to Steve Jobs’ “I’ve finally cracked it” comment on Apple TV in his autobiography. The tv channel as an app idea has been bandied about plenty since this comment, and with AirPlay mirroring, it seems so obvious. More people are using mobile devices whilst consuming other media, and creating an integrated experience will be part and parcel of this idea. Not only that, with the inclusion of AirPlay mirroring in OSX Mountain Lion, it seems that the days of connecting a monitor up as a secondary display could be coming to an end, all you’ll need is an Apple TV.
Have you found any clever AirPlay mirroring apps? Any devs out there that can comment on why you’re not utilising AirPlay mirroring?
** UPDATE 22/01/13** : I’ve recently written another post about Airplay and Airplay mirroring and the optimised apps: Where are the Airplay Optimised apps?