When I finally bought an Apple TV late last year, beyond streaming music and videos, one of the first things I did was to fire up a few games I knew had some kind of dual screen experience. Frankly, there weren’t too many to try, and really none of them blew me away to the point where I’ve played another game through my Apple TV.
Seems like a shame, doesn’t it? Which begs the question, why aren’t there more games that take advantage of AirPlay and why aren’t the ones that are available better?
Graham Spencer at MacStories went through his collection of games and found only eight worth mentioning. Eight. And one, The Walking Dead game, he didn’t even feel like it should be there. In his post Graham talks about the challenges facing developers for making AirPlay, Dual Screen games. Turns out, there aren’t really any. Apple has made it pretty easy to code.
The problem as Graham sees it, and I concur, is that Apple hasn’t leveraged the “hobby” product terribly well—yet. Here’s how Graham wraps up his post:
AirPlay is the feature that turns the unassuming black hockey-puck box that is the Apple TV into something interesting. Dual Screen AirPlay is a feature that should be making the Apple TV something great, and yet, so far it has been a missed opportunity for both parties. iOS games are missing an opportunity to differentiate and be unique, whilst other iOS apps (particularly video service apps) could also benefit from supporting the more advanced AirPlay functionality.
The future of TVs will undoubtedly involve a close meshing between them and smartphones and tablets. With its hockey puck Apple TV, Apple already has the beginnings of this meshing thanks to AirPlay. Dual Screen AirPlay is the next level up in the connection and there will no doubt be further advances of AirPlay in the months and years to come. It’s just a pity that today, nearly 18 months after the feature was introduced, Dual Screen AirPlay hasn’t taken off like it could have.
To get the dual screen experience you have to not just have an Apple TV (which more people do) and a capable device (again, not much of a problem anymore), but know that the capability exists and how to turn it on.
The turning on part is easy. Double-tap the Home Button, bring up the multitasking bar, sweep to the right, tap the AirPlay icon (which I bet many people don’t know what that icon is), pick your Apple TV and turn on screen mirroring.
Nope, not complicated at all. Cumbersome for sure though. As Graham points out, Apple could make this easier with a simple button that apps (games and otherwise) can use to turn everything on with a single tap.
The next step is something that developers and Apple need to do together. Apple needs to remind developers that there are lots of Apple TV owners out there you could be augmenting their apps for and Apple needs to help the developers with making a bigger deal of this really cool feature.
You know what though, I’m betting we’re going to see all of this at WWDC in June. I think with television “an area of intense interest” (as Tim Cook keeps saying), Apple TVs selling really well, and iOS 7 coming up this is exactly what will happen.
On a final note, I decided to try Zombie Gunship (one of my mindless games I like to play on my iPad) and while it worked my network didn’t carry the data too well. There shouldn’t be an issue though. An AirPort Express (bridging to the main network downstairs) is less than 5 feet from me and less than 10 feet from the Apple TV with nothing obstructing any of the devices. Which makes me wonder if some people have tried screen mirroring without success. I didn’t think it would be an issue. Netflix works great. Music and movies stream from my Mac (downstairs) to the Apple TV. Very curious I’d say.