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Latest Apple TV update enables AirPlay discovery over Bluetooth

updated 02:09 am EDT, Thu March 13, 2014

Only works with iOS 7.1 at present, Mavericks support likely ahead

The recently-released Apple TV 6.1 update that arrived on Monday has an undocumented new feature that allows AirPlay sessions to be initiated using Bluetooth rather than Bonjour, a change that should make third-generation (1080p-capable) Apple TV units friendlier to complex networks such as those found in institutional and enterprise environments. The system can still scan using Bonjour as well, but will work with Bluetooth if the initiating devices are running iOS 7.1.



The functionality is not yet available in Macs running OS X 10.9.2, but could be added in a future update, Appleinsider reports. The Bluetooth is only used to scan for and announce devices that support AirPlay, which still relies on Wi-Fi to stream content.

The feature was first discovered by an Apple IT community site, and will let Apple TVs -- which are becoming increasingly popular in board rooms, hotel meeting facilities and classrooms -- connect despite any network restrictions that inhibit Bonjour, such as separate subnets for different equipment. In addition, Apple TV OS 6.1 added the ability to hide unwanted channels.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. bonaccij

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-19-03

    I've tried this functionality on 3 different ATVs with 3 different 7.1 devices. I can't seem to make this work the way everyone is saying it works. It just searches and searches. The moment you put it on the same subnet - boom. There it is... not sure this is really ready for prime time yet.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    "The Bluetooth is only used to scan for and announce devices that support AirPlay, which still relies on Wi-Fi to stream content."

    "...and will let Apple TVs ... connect despite any network restrictions that inhibit Bonjour, such as separate subnets for different equipment."

    What I gather from this article is that the update makes it so that Bluetooth is silently used to discover and announce AirPlay-compatible devices, but the actual streaming still occurs over wifi. This seems more like a silent enhancement to make discovery of AirPlay devices quicker and easier -- not a change in the way content is actually streamed to the device.

    I'm not sure one could "force" this to work, much less actually see it in action -- it seems like it's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff going on without a lot (or any) user configurability or control over how it happens (which is how it should be -- silent, efficient, and unobtrusive).

  1. dh1994

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-13-14

    I tested this in a complex corporate environment with different subnets for wired devices and wireless devices. I found that this feature requires the latest 3rd Generation AppleTV (1080p version). The older, 2nd Generation AppleTV (720p version) does not seem to use the Bluetooth discovery feature. When it works on the 3rd Generation device, it just works...no settings to play with.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Diablo: you have it exactly right.

    dh1994: good point, I will add that qualifier to the article. Thanks for the info.

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