AirPlay iOS mirroring is now ready to use in public beta. This means that all devices that are running firmware v3.1.0 or newer will be able to use the AirPlay function. It is disabled by default and will have to be enabled from the Airtame Cloud or the app. Here is how it looks from Airtame Cloud:

Abstract

The Airtame AirPlay integration consists of a software component that will run on the Airtame device, and it will make the Airtame device appear in the local network as an Apple TV, advertising the name that was set in the Airtame device settings. When using AirPlay, the user will not use any Airtame software on the laptop/iPhone/iPad side. This means, Airtame cannot control any behavior you might see on the sending side (iPhone/iPad).

AirPlay works both when streaming from OSX and iOS devices but development efforts are focused on iOS devices

 

Network Requirements

For the Airtame to appear in the AirPlay dropdown menu you need to make sure Bonjour is enabled on your network. This normally entails enabling Multicast Mode and  IGMP Snooping.

The ports used by the AirPlay receiver (on the Airtame device side) are:

For Discovery

  • Server Port = 7000, ... TCP

For Streaming

  • Event Port = 29053, ...TCP
  • Timing Port = 2001, ... UDP
  • Data Port = 7100, ... TCP
  • Audio Data Port = 61875, ... UDP

... means that if this port is not available then next available port is used.

Setup option for networks where Airplay is not available

Some networks do not support Airplay or some networks do not allow mobile devices on it. In this case it is possible to set a static IP on the WiFi connection to Airtame which keeps the connection directly to Airtames Access Point but allows internet to go through the LTE:

  1. You would need to enable one of Airtames AP's for direct connection. You can see how to set it up here: How to configure Airtames Access Points 
  2. Follow this guide from Apple on how to force iOS devices to use LTE network while maintaining connection to Airplay device: How to force iOS to use LTE to access internet with WiFi Airplay enabled 

 

1 - Types of Streaming

a. Screen mirroring

This is the general use-case when the user selects “AirPlay Mirroring” from their bottom system panel on the iOS device, or from OSX when going to “System Preferences” -> “Display”  and choosing an “AirPlay Display” from the list. 

Note that in case of showing Youtube videos the performance is better if you use the casting function (see point C below), instead of launching the video while screen mirroring. In the latter scenario, with some videos the screen mirroring might stop, after you switch to the full screen mode. This may be due to the different audio sampling weights used in different Youtube videos.

b. Photos App Casting

This use-case is only available from an iOS device, and is enabled by starting with with “AirPlay Mirroring” as explained above, and then opening the “Photos” app on the iPhone/iPad. Until the “Photos” app is open, the iOS device will mirror its screen, so the user will see the same image on both the iOS and the Airtame screens. Once the “Photos” app is open, the Airtame screen will only show the current photo or video that the user is browsing to, in full-screen. When pressing the play button of a video, the video will play full-screen on the Airtame.

c. Casting

This use-case is enabled from apps like “Videos”, “Youtube”, or other similar apps. As in the above case, when the user navigates to the respective app, the streaming will switch to casting, and so the Airtame will not show the mirrored iPad/iPhone screen, but only the video file, in full-screen (no progress bar, no buttons). 

If the user opens the “Videos” app, while mirroring (as explained in case 1), then the iOS device will automatically switch to casting when the user starts playing a video file.

If the user opens the “Youtube” app without mirroring (as explained in case 1.), so not connected at all to the Airtame device, then the user can start casting the video to the Airtame by pressing the small casting screen icon, from the bottom-right corner of the video, next to the full-screen button.

Pincode support has been added, and if the user enables “Pin code connect” option in the Airtame settings, then all the future connections via AirPlay will ask the user for a password. The user will be shown the usual 4-digit pin code already used on Airtame. 

 

2 - Known issues & limitations

Since AirPlay is currently an experimental feature of Airtame, there are some limitations or missing features in comparison to a native AirPlay device like Apple TV:

a. The device has to have a good network connection.

When using recent iOS devices, with a recent iOS version, the mirroring streaming will happen at 60fps, and so the network should be good enough to support high bandwidth streaming.

b. Video position is not correctly updated when casting

When casting from Youtube or Videos apps, the position in the video is not correctly updated. The AirPlay SDK has limited support for the video progress bar.

c. Youtube casting limitations

Besides the position not being correctly updated, we have some other issues when casting from youtube:

  • Sometimes it disconnects and tries to connect again when playing a video that has commercials inside. It stops when the commercial begins, and then it tries to connect again. We don’t know of any work-around for this issue.
  • Switching to next video over and over again, might end-up in a buffering deadlock, which means it will never finish buffering. To solve this issue, the user will have to stop casting and try again.
  • due to different audio sampling sizes used in different Youtube videos, the stream might disconnect. This happens more often, when switching to Fullscreen. An alternative solution in such cases can be starting the video. Always make sure the Airtame is getting good signal. 

d. No support for streaming services

The Airtame AirPlay doesn’t support iTunes, Netflix, HBO, Hulu and similar as of now, so nothing related to these streaming services is expected to work. It might be supported in the future.

e. Streaming only audio is only partially supported

Streaming only audio by selecting the Airtame from the AirPlay audio output list, is not really implemented. Airtame doesn’t have support for showing anything on the screen while playing the audio, so the screen will stay black (and show the spinning wheel).

f. Pincode will not always work

When the user connects and disconnects very quickly, or on some versions of iOS devices, the user will not be asked for a password, even though the pincode was enabled. 

g. Casting videos with unusual codecs will not work

The support for the codecs we support when casting, is limited: h264 with stereo aac/alac audio. Anything that is not that, is not supported when casting (Videos or any other app that does casting).

h. When the iOS device goes to sleep, we cannot recover

If the user starts mirroring from an iOS device, and leaves the device idle until the screen goes off, it will remain connected for a few more minutes before it completely disconnects. If the user resumes the device during that period (after it went off, but before it disconnected), streaming will try to resume, but it will buffer forever, and cannot resume. 

i. Quitting the “Youtube” app while casting requires manual disconnection

If the user is casting from the “Youtube” app (as described in case 1.c) and quits the Youtube app, by double-pressing home button and swiping the app to kill it, then the casting connection is not closed, and the screen stays black. The user will have to open the youtube app again, open a video, and manually disconnect from the little casting button from the bottom-right corner of the video. Alternatively, instead of opening the Youtube app again, the user can disconnect by connecting to the Airtame (as described in case 1.a) and then disconnecting. 

j. Adjusting the audio volume doesn’t work

If the user tries to adjust the volume while mirroring or casting, it will not work. This is supported in theory by AirPlay, but we have down prioritized this, since we don’t support it with the normal streaming either.

k. Airplay across VLANS

Apple Airplay has a TTL=1. Because of that separate network features have to be enabled on network controller for Airplay to cross VLANS.

l. You can only mirror to one Airtame at a time 

With computers you can mirror your screen or window to several Airtames at the same time, as long as your computer and the Airtames are on the same network. You cannot do it with iOS devices using Airplay.

3 - Have any feedback related to this feature?

As this is a new feature we would really appreciate your feedback on your experience.
In order to help report any feedback or bugs here are some information we would like to have: 

  • Log files from the Airtame device
  • What iOS or OSX device are you using? (e.g. iPhone6s, iPad2, etc)
  • What iOS version is installed on that device.
  • If you have any relevant information or steps that will help us reproduce  this.

🤗 Thank you for helping us test the beta!

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