Hidden AirPlay feature discovered in Apple TV 6.1

By , Mar 12, 2014

apple tv

Apple released version 6.1 of its Apple TV software alongside iOS 7.1 on Monday. The update seemingly included little in the way of changes, outside of a new option that allows you to hide channel icons from the main menu.

But apparently there’s a hidden feature in the new firmware that hasn’t been talked about much, and it’s actually a fairly big deal. According to a new report, ATV 6.1 enables you to discover AirPlay connections via Bluetooth…

Apple IT website AFP548.com (via Daring Fireball) reports:

“Here’s one that will make educators and education network administrators realllllly happy. There’s a hidden gem in the AppleTV 6.1 update that was released today.

In addition to bonjour negotiation for AirPlay, iOS 7.1 devices will also look for AirPlay sources over bluetooth when doing it’s scan! This means you do NOT need bonjour to AirPlay.

The author of the post, Derick Okihara, says that there are 3 requirements to get this to work. You’ll need an Apple TV running 6.1 software, an iOS device running iOS 7.1, and some sort of IP connectivity between the two devices.

Okihara is able to demonstrate his theory by discovering an AirPlay connection on his Apple TV via his iPad, over Bluetooth. He does note, though, that he was not able to get this to work when going from his Mac to Apple TV.

ipad bluetooth airplay

The implications here are huge. The Apple TV+iOS device solution is becoming a popular replacement for old-school projectors in both education and business. And with this feature, they wouldn’t have to mess with network settings.

Also remember that Apple is rumored to be working on a big update for the Apple TV—one that includes better support for games and Apple’s new iOS 7 controller API. So keep an eye on this, it may not be the last time you’ll hear of it.

Update: the above article has been edited to clarify that the Apple TV 6.1 update allows users to discover AirPlay connections via Bluetooth—it does not actually conduct AirPlay sessions over Bluetooth.

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  • Justice and Malice

    But if there has to be IP connectivity….then they are on the same network, no? Therefore airplay works anyway. Or am I misunderstanding this?

    • chjode

      No, you are correct. The author misunderstands this.

      • Justice and Malice

        If that’s true, how embarrassing.

      • ibadreams

        You misunderstand the use case (the author knows what he/she’s talking about). Corporate networks often block Bonjour Services on their firewalls. This circumvents that (allegedly). We allow IP to IP connectivity, just not through services like Bonjour. I’m in my office right now seeing if this will work on our company network (so far no success) :-(.

    • cc

      The Apple TV & iPad may be on the same network but on a different SSID, so it doesn’t mean that AirPlay works anyway.

    • topsully

      On some corporate wireless networks, particularly those with Cisco wireless controllers and lightweight access points Bonjour doesn’t work because of the way the controllers handle multicast. That makes the discovery portion of Airplay fail. If this information is true, and I’ll be testing it later, then this would resolve that issue.

      • okay

        This is not true, Cisco WLC have a Bonjour gateway which works fine when configured correctly. I would say this is for ease of use in corporate networks with multiple VLAN’s and no Bonjour gateway, this means plug and play.

      • topsully

        Actually it is true. It might not be true for all versions of Cisco controllers, but it certainly true of the one we have.

  • jack

    I don’t think Bluetooth has throughput for that.. maybe it’s just for connecting without a wifi network just like AirDrop

  • RobGMartin

    i think the point here is that bluetooth can be used for the discovery portion but the actual information still goes over the ip network. This is a big deal for corporate networks where discovery and bonjour may be blocked.

    • Justice and Malice

      Which if that’s the case, then this article is wildly misleading.

      • RobGMartin

        Agreed

  • Rak S

    I don’t get this… How is the apple TV discovered, if not over Wifi?
    If it’s connected without wifi, any video thats transmitted over bluetooth would be awful, so it could only be used for audio of some kind of picture slideshow.

  • chjode

    Title should read: “AppleTV 6.1 introduces Airplay DISCOVERY via Bluetooth.”

  • Saulo Benigno

    IP? Over Bluetooth? I don’t understand…

  • https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/412035973686366208/r14EeLu9.jpeg CPVideoMaker101

    i find sad the misuse of the word theory. it’s a hypothesis

  • http://facebook.com/kurtlewisart Kurt

    Does ATV work like the cromecast where you find content on your iPhone to play then the ATV connects to the internet to stream it or is your iPhone streaming the content plus sending it to the ATV?

    I use a PC connected to my TV so I never cared, but with the rumors of the next ATV it sounds like a device I will want

    • Svs

      I believe it is the later that is true because i have a very slow internet connection that if i play a youtube video it will need 10 mins to load (360p)

      But if i already load that youtube video and airplay it to my apple tv it only needs 15 seconds or so to load

      • Ted Forbes

        It depends on the app and the feed. Bloomberg streams faster and sharper than WSJ. Netflix will stream and adjust the resolution based on the speed. YouTube will stream faster low resolution contents than true HD contents, etc. Bloomberg streams best, so whatever Bloomberg is doing I think Apple needs to look at that and set it as a standard.

      • Svs

        Well the point is wheter the ios device sends content to apple tv or commands to apple tv the speed of the stream is just a proof

    • topsully

      It does both, sort of. The ATV supports Airplay, which allows you to send content from an iOS device, a Mac OS device or a Windows version of iTunes to the ATV for display on the connected TV. It also will stream content from many internet sources including YouTube, Apple’s own store, Netflix, MLB TV, etc. But it uses its own menu system and remote control for that, you don’t direct it using the iOS device.

  • cc

    .

  • kemal

    It is not even working properly on WiFi. I can’t smoothly mirror my $3000 Mac Pro screen on my HDTV. That was the only reason I bought Apple TV otherwise Roku offers a much better value. Apple does bad more and more…