There are now more than twice as many Apple gadgets in our house as people.There are the iPhones and Airs for us parents, for example. There’s also an older MacBook and MacBook Pro that still get some use. And an iPad, a new iMac for the two kids, and, as of yesterday, an Apple TV.
The kids aren’t old enough to have their own iPhones and laptops yet, but that’s coming. When that comes, there will be at least three times as many Apple gadgets in the house as people. Remember when some famous tech guru observed at the beginning of the computing age that there would only ever be a handful of computers in the world because there was just no need for them?
(There are also, of course, all the decommissioned Apple gadgets in the house… old iPhones, a backup drive, an iPod touch that never held a charge, etc. This company’s reach is remarkable).
Anyway, yesterday was the first time I used Apple TV and Airplay.
Especially for $100.
Yes, there were some problems. It’s still too complicated. But in the end, it was awesome.
It was family movie night. My wife started downloading “X-Men” on her Air. Then she unboxed the Apple TV and plugged it in.
As is usually the case with Apple, the human-gadget interfacing was beautiful and intuitive (it’s remarkable to me how many companies still don’t care about this or can’t make it simple and pretty). My wife quickly figured out how to connect the Apple TV to the home WiFi network, and entering the letters for the password with the small Apple TV remote was much simpler than with, say, entering letters for shows with the cable-company remote. Same for entering her iTunes account information.
My wife’s iTunes account soon appeared on the Big Screen (tv). A couple of clicks later, there were all the movies she has ever bought, including those that aren’t on her Air.
And then there came the first problem.”X-Men” was still downloading on the Air, and it didn’t show up on the Apple TV iTunes screen.
So we sat around and waited for X-Men to finish downloading, which it soon did.
But the movie still didn’t show up on the Apple TV version of the iTunes account.
We waited a while for everything to sync.
So we tried Plan B.
We tried to find my wife’s Air on the “Computers” section of the Apple TV, but we couldn’t get the two to connect (something about the Air not being on the right kind of network). At that point, the experience began to resemble the one in the famous Apple ad with the dad seated at the PC for hours trying to figure out the proper settings for the “DIP switches” while the kid gets bored and goes over to his friend’s house because they have a Mac.
The kids were frustrated, so we just started watching the movie on my wife’s Air. This is a common experience in our house: The large TV screen sits unused while we’re all huddled around a tiny computer. This was the reason for buying the Apple TV unit.
But then we remembered “Airplay.”
Airplay, I dimly recalled, lets you stream from one Apple device directly to Apple TV and then onto the big screen. I initially thought we had just tried that via the “computer” settings on the Apple TV, but some investigation with the Apple TV remote revealed that we hadn’t.
So, to the kids’ frustration, we stopped the movie again and tried to set up Airplay on both the TV and the Air. And, lo and behold, 15 minutes later, it worked!
The movie just played on the TV!
And we hadn’t needed a degree in Electrical Engineering to make it happen!
It’s at times like that when one is reminded why Apple is the most valuable company in the world.
Click image for more on the Apple TV: