Apple is rolling out a major new software update today for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch: iOS 4.2, which brings features like background processing to the iPad.But the new update is also a big boost for Apple TV, the company’s living room gadget. This could, in turn, improve Apple TV sales.
That’s because iOS 4.2 adds a new feature called “AirPlay,” which lets you wirelessly stream video, audio, and photos from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch to an Apple TV. (To activate it on an Apple TV, there is a separate software update, confusingly called Apple TV 4.1.)
- You can start watching a movie on your iPad and finish it on your big TV, by beaming it from your iPad to the TV, via Apple TV.
- You can visit a friend’s house and stream a movie or photo slideshow to their big TV, via AirPlay and their Apple TV.
So if you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, the Apple TV now makes even more sense as a $99 accessory to bridge your portable gadget to your big TV and speakers.
Now, the question is, which third-party video apps will add AirPlay support?
Apple’s built-in movie player will obviously support it right out of the gate, but other apps like the ABC app, Hulu Plus, and others may need more time to support it. Moreover, the TV networks may decide not to support it at all because they don’t want you watching their streaming content on a TV set — this is why they have blocked Google TV from their sites. (Netflix tells us it is not supporting AirPlay.)
How about using AirPlay to play iOS games on your big TV?
That’s maybe not something you’ll be able to do right away, especially for games that require constant feedback, like a racing or action game. That’s because there is a delay in streaming, which would make gameplay challenging. But it’s possible that AirPlay might work for a slower game like Scrabble or chess, which could be fun — and maybe eventually for faster games.
Either way, the Apple TV is about to get a lot sexier.