Why Aren’t There More Dual Screen Apps for Apple TV?


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.

Via MacStories

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.

Like this post? Share it!

  • pakaku

    To give Nintendo a fighting chance ;)

  • Kimk69

    Really, I bought an Apple TV when I had the iPad 2 to play real racing 2 without an HD cable and it had a little lag that would make it impossible to play. I have a fast Comcast Internet. Then I bought the 4S and the same thing. Finally the iPhone 5 works great. No lag and no more HD cables. It was hardly a lag but just enough to make you hit the wall when you shouldn’t have. Used to play chopper 2 too. But yeah, they should have more available for sure.

    • Pacomacman

      This is because its not the streaming that is the problem but the device that its played on. Most games push a device to its limits (or approaching) so there is little CPU / GPU left for rendering a second display like in Real Racing. This extra screen doesn’t get generated automagically, it takes a lot of GPU and CPU so it works best on apps that don’t push the boundaries. Also if your app uses OpenGL your GPU has to split its time and resources rendering two displays and you can’t drop the frame rate of the second display.

  • Alex

    I costs money to put such features in Apps, it’s not quite as simple as one might think, and making Sound with adds a few tricks as well.

    Remember my comments on ‘innovation’? Well, this is exactly it, why should anyone spend the cash to put such features in Apps when after they do, Apple IGNORES them and instead features other Apps by Developers who have failed to put the cash from those Sales Apple game them back into innovation?

    If you don’t agree, you most likely have no Apps on the App Store.

    Now, let’s take this a step further. What happens after YEARS of Apple making poor Editorial choices and ignoring those who try to innovate? Um, well, people get resentful. Who creates what is ‘cool’? The very people who’s innovation goes unrewarded by Apple. So, what do they do? They look elsewhere. That’s a big part of why Apple is trending out of style now; they’ve spent too much time beating up the people who set trends in the tech world. Yes they can come back, and likely will, and learning to reward innovation will be a part of that.

    If you don’t agree, you most likely spend more time pointing to what is cool than creating what is cool.

    • http://twitter.com/DarkHonestTruth Sosue Me

      i hate your, if you dont agree type of argument!

      if you dont agree, you probably cant see whats true

      • Alex

        Yes, it’s very frustrating, you’re right. On the other hand, it’s also true: if you haven’t actually built an app and had it approved and posted to the App Store, if you’ve only had the chance to consider what others have done, it’s nearly impossible for you to truly appreciate the actions of Apple toward Developers.

    • Zangpakto

      Wait… you a hipster or something? That must be it…

      I mean apple trendy? Now sure… but who cares? I’ve always followed apple since the Apple II…. And I’ll carry on buying and following their products. I couldn’t care if the hipsters disappeared. It seems it is those people that are trying to bring the company down and moan more than anything else!

      Also spending a lot of money to add? Please… do you even know how to code? Complicated items aren’t going to be put on the iDevice if the main screen is going to be the TV. Simplistic details and such are simple to code and don’t take much time at all.

      The problem as pointed out in the actual post, is that not many people have Apple TV and not many use the two devices together.

      Those I’ve showed how to and the benefit, they now use all the time. And your final line? How more pathetic can you get.

      Apps with unique features are few and far between now, if you think of something, there is a good chance the concept has been done before.

      Who decides what is cool? You? Cause your seriously uncool by your post and ramblings with no actual weight to what is being said by you.

      Devs putting cash back into the apps? Sure sure, so how do they pay their fees? their staff? Rent etc? Oh wait, according to you, they must live off poverty as all the cash they make, must not go into living costs or work expenses but back only to the apps to make the users, you, happy and not enabling them to live any life.

      • Alex

        Hipster: Hu?

        Trendy: seen the share value?

        Cash to add: you can’t say it’s easy, then say it’s easy because people only code easy things. Good code take time, crap is easy.

        It’s pathetic because its true.

        Unique Features: hello, that’s the point, and I’m saying a reason they’re not is that Apple’s editorial decision result in their being little money in it for 99.9% of Devs.

        Cool: if you have to ask, it’s not.

        Invest: you’re model makes my point, if a Developer whose App was pushed by Apple poured the cash back into Development as your model suggests. Today, most Indys don’t. Sure, the ones owned by a VC guy do, but they’re burning through VC cash, the Apple deposit is incidental.

        Look, 70% of Devs prefer iOS, as do I. I’m not sure I know any, and I know a lot, who don’t wish Apple would let the Marketplace pick the winners & losers and instead Edit the App Store through the Approval process rather than this hyper reliance on featured sections. Which brings us back to the point here; people would create more innovative features if there were money in it.

        • Alex

          BTW, want a good example of my point, go read the reviews of the App “Vine” that Apple is pushing right now.

    • Kimk69

      Yeah, I hear you, but don’t you think that if the apps that are so called “innovation” in them would one day get noticed anyway if their any good. So many app reviewers out there and word of mouth with countless websites like this that notice great new apps. Might take a while but I feel that if its good it will get noticed. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know.

      • Alex

        I hope you’re right; that they will stand out ‘in time’. But with 750,000 and growing, it’s tough. There’s a lot of who you are and who you know involved, and those guys get the cash, so the people who create great software and don’t know the right people, well. I supposed someday if some review site with amazing courage stumbles across one of those great, lost Apps they could try.

        Maybe Apple should look seriously at Removing from Sale anything that hasn’t been updated since iOS 5 (or Xcode 3.6), then when iOS 7 is adopted, move that to iOS 6 minimum. Then, add to the Review Guidelines much more strict judgement about an Apps’ merit to exist on the App Store. It might help a great deal to clear out all the junk.