AirPlay Apps

Friday, June 8th, 2012

I think it’d be cool if Apple TV apps, instead of running on the Apple TV, “streamed” off your phone with AirPlay.

The current situation is that iOS apps can AirPlay to an Apple TV. This essentially gives you a second UIWindow on the Apple TV you can put whatever content in — slideshow, movie, etc.

This is almost all of the way there — here’s what I think Apple could add:

  • Set of UI classes to make developing an Apple TV–native interface easy
  • Allow apps to receive events from the remote
  • Allow apps to be started from the Apple TV

That last one is key. You sit down in front of your TV and “channels” that represent the AirPlay-enabled apps you have on your phone appear. You select one with the remote and the app launches on your phone (silently) and now you’re streaming content to the Apple TV.

There are certainly problems and complications with this approach. But it could be an interesting way to keep the Apple TV cheap and affordable while also allowing the long tail network effects of the App Store to get a beachhead on the Apple TV.


  1. Ted Mielczarek replied on June 8th, 2012:

    This sounds like a great step towards a future where all your computing happens on one device (probably your phone), and you just have various displays for different interaction modality. I can imagine my desktop computer just being a nice big screen with a keyboard and a mouse that’s actually running everything off of the phone in my pocket.

  2. MIchael Critz replied on June 8th, 2012:

    Ted has a great point. The future is so close!

    My two concerns are latency and MMI. Everyone that has used the Remote app for AppleTV has felt it wanting at some point. Finally, how do you type? The keyboard, buttons, game controls are all in your hand and completely detached from where the users’ eyes are.