Apple TV 6.1 Update brings the ability to discover AirPlay devices directly over Bluetooth

Apple TV AirPlay

A new report suggests that the Apple TV 6.1 update which rolled out recently might have brought more changes than we initially thought. Prominent among these features is the ability to discover an AirPlay compatible device over Bluetooth directly, rather than relying on Bonjour.

Derick Okihara writing for AFP548 first spotted the feature. He explains:

Here’s one that will make educators and education network administrators realllllly happy. There’s a hidden gem in the AppleTV 6.1 update that was released today.

In addition to Bonjour over UDP negotiation for AirPlay, iOS 7.1 devices will also look for AirPlay sources using Bonjour over bluetooth when doing it’s scan! This means you do NOT need bonjour over UDP for AirPlay -discovery-. Once the host is discovered, AirPlay data is then transmitted over the normal network.

This basically means that your Apple TV will be able to scan for AirPlay compatible devices. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available for Macs yet, but we’re hoping Apple will bring it with an update in the future. In addition to having an Apple TV running version 6.1, users will need to have an iOS device running version 7.1 which was recently rolled out to a plethora of devices and IP connectivity between the two devices. The feature also needs Bluetooth 4.0, so it work with iPhone 4S or later, iPad 3 or later, iPad minis, iPod touch 5G and Apple TV 3.

Apple TVs are used extensively in educational institutions and this new feature could prove to be a massive boon for them, especially since Bonjour is mostly blocked in places with multiple computers or other machines. So it seems like Apple has introduced this feature keeping those institutions in mind. AirPlay basically allows users to mirror content from their iOS device to an Apple TV wirelessly.

[AFP548 via Daring Fireball]