AirPlay has been a staple of Apple’s for quite some time now, and it looks like the company has been quietly preparing a major overhaul of the technology ahead of the public launch of iOS 9 and the new Apple TV.
As revealed in a report published recently by 9to5Mac, and citing information gathered from developer Squirrels, Apple’s changes to AirPlay is causing some mirroring app developers to build workarounds for the incoming changes so that their apps still work. According to the developer, which built the mirroring app Reflector, Apple changed the underlying protocols of AirPlay in a big way, specifically when it comes to the mechanism to connect mirrored devices:
“What Apple did this time around with iOS 9 updates is make a wide-sweeping change to underlying protocols that power AirPlay. A lot of the pairing setups (like how your mobile device interacts with a receiver) have changed. A lot of the exchanges between an iOS device and an Apple TV or any of the receivers have changed. The actual mechanism through which a mirroring connection is established was entirely overhauled. So, many underlying AirPlay components and protocols are entirely different in iOS 9. Not only at a security level but also with the way the two devices talk to each other.”
While mirroring apps are getting hit with these changes, and workarounds must be implemented to keep the apps functioning for now in iOS 9, the changes aren’t an issue for services and apps that simply utilize the AirPlay feature to stream content from one device to another, which is good news.
Even better news, though, is that these changes that Apple is rolling out to AirPlay are apparently making the experience better across the board, both for developers and the end user, as noted by Squirrels’ developers:
“We discovered AirPlay has improved security, it’s faster and it improves overall performance. Using some of the new security features Apple implemented, the whole stack moves a lot faster. It allows for more interesting things like one-time pairing. That means less battery drainage and faster encryption and connection… This protocol is designed from the ground up for existing wifi, wifi direct, AWDL (Apple’s own wifi direct used for AirDrop and other features), Bluetooth, and even USB CarPlay and QuickTime. It is clear Apple sees a future of pairing all of your devices together in one easy to use network.”
Other than simply upgrading AirPlay for another set of devices and improving technology, it’s possible that Apple went with this major overhaul to the feature due to the fact that the new Apple TV will be functioning as a major hub for other smart devices in a home, thanks to HomeKit. Making AirPlay more secure, faster and improved with better performance all seem like necessary upgrades as the Apple TV’s importance grows.