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Apple TV Update 6.1 Allows AirPlay Discoverability Over Bluetooth

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Apr 12, 2001
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When the Apple TV was updated to version 6.1 earlier this week, it was initially thought that there were minimal changes outside of the ability to hide icons in the main menu. However, a new report from AFP548 (via Daring Fireball) indicates that Apple also enabled AirPlay device discovery over Bluetooth as well.
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 negotiation for AirPlay, iOS 7.1 devices will also look for AirPlay sources over bluetooth when doing it's scan! This means you do NOT need bonjour to AirPlay.
Image via AFP548This change allows Apple TV to search for connectable devices over Bluetooth, bypassing Bonjour and making it easier for education and business administrators to set up iOS device and Apple TV pairings. Previously, Apple TVs could have a difficult time discovering devices on networks that might block Bonjour.

The new feature has three requirements: an Apple TV updated to 6.1, an iOS device updated to 7.1, and IP connectivity between both devices. AFP548 found during its testing that the feature doesn't yet support Macs, but that the ability could be added in a future update.

Apple TVs have become an important replacement for traditional projectors in both educational and business settings, and these changes are likely to make it even easier for administrators to consider switching to Apple's solution.

Article Link: Apple TV Update 6.1 Allows AirPlay Discoverability Over Bluetooth
 

Klae17

macrumors 65816
Jul 15, 2011
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Wifi still required right? Then I can't use it at work because wifi is blocked.
 
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MacSlut

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Aug 12, 2002
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Interesting. I wonder if the audio streaming is better over Bluetooth than WiFi.

The media is still streamed over WiFi or WiFi/Ethernet. All the Bluetooth does is negotiate the connection.

That said, the audio streaming protocols that do exist for Bluetooth have their pros and cons as compared to WiFi. One main disadvantage is that the audio will likely be transcoded with lower quality as compare to what's possible over WiFi with AirPlay.
 
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zhenya

macrumors 604
Jan 6, 2005
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It says you do not need Bonjour. I assume Bonjour is like WiFi.

Bonjour is a protocol used over wifi for service discovery. You still need the devices to be connected on the same IP network, but the discovery can now happen via Bluetooth rather than Bonjour if the Bonjour protocol is blocked.

Great for schools and businesses. Not going to offer anything new to the average user.
 
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tonytiger13

macrumors regular
Jan 9, 2008
105
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Than what stops students from taking over the Apple TV?

Apple TV has a number of features to stop this. On-Screen code, user set password, etc. Once a user has control with the code mode, they won't loose control until they relinquish it. The password mode however allows a new user to kick the current user off (if, of course, they know the password).

On another note, I work for my team at the university that installs these in the classrooms (we only have a handful so far). Wi-Fi has been a headache with these because of what network settings have to be allowed for Bonjour over a enterprise network (and sub networks). Bluetooth will solve this easy (if the users have an iOS device running 7.1).
 
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MacSlut

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It says you do not need Bonjour. I assume Bonjour is like WiFi.

No, Bonjour is a way for devices to identify themselves over a network. It's an Apple protocol that is sometimes blocked in routers and switches.

So before 6.1 your Apple TV would announce itself as being available on the network using Bonjour. You would then connect and stream to it. Now, you can still use Bonjour, but if that's being blocked, the Apple TV can still be found via Bluetooth, but streaming is still done the same way over WiFi/Ethernet.
 
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Garsun

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Oct 20, 2009
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Interesting. I wonder if the audio streaming is better over Bluetooth than WiFi.

The way I read this is that the video and audio are still only streamed over ethernet (either wired or Wi-Fi as appropriate) there's no change in this.

The change is how they discover the AppleTVs IP address in order to stream.
Now, instead of only using Bonjour over ethernet, they can now use Bluetooth for devices within direct Bluetooth range to discover the IP number to use
 
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AstronomyiPhone

macrumors regular
Jun 9, 2013
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So I don't get it. What's the advantage? My iPhone syncs instantly with my Apple TV over the AirPort router at work. But the work network is really unstable. I wish I could just connect via Bluetooth.

Not a general consumer feature; it's for schools and businesses that have restricted networks.
 
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NocturnalJazz

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Jun 24, 2013
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This is not what you're hoping for. We use an application on our desktop computers at our school to share ipads to the computers>projectors since all of our projectors are VGA and lack the HDMI for an Apple TV hook.

The applications displays the available computers accessable, which will label as the computer name. It may look like it's bluetooth, but it's not.
 
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2457282

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This sounds like a great think for network admins that do not want to open up to bonjour. I am the network admin of my home network (1 Mac, 1 Mac air, 2 ATV, 1 ipad, 2 iPhones, 1 time capsule). This was never an issue. So I think for most people this will mean nothing. But for network and security folks at schools and offices, this is a very good thing indeed.
 
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MikhailT

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Nov 12, 2007
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So I don't get it. What's the advantage? My iPhone syncs instantly with my Apple TV over the AirPort router at work. But the work network is really unstable. I wish I could just connect via Bluetooth.

No advantages for regular customers.

Bonjour is for automatically establishing a connection between two endpoints without doing any configuration, it's used to find a specific resource (computer, printer, etc) on the network to register your app with. The actual data transfer is then handled by Wi-Fi or ethernet now that the two know each other.

In a home network, it's not a problem to have bonjour running sending out data to find services/devices to register with.

If we didn't have bonjour, we would have to figure out the IP address manually on the printer/computer, and then manually enter it in the app to start the connection.

This is for networks where Bonjour is restricted or blocked outright, such as corporate or school networks where there might be dozens or hundreds of devices.

Instead of using Bonjour to establish the connection, you can now use Bluetooth, which doesn't use up the network traffic and instead uses short-wave radio to find other bluetooth devices to establish the connection. After the connection is established, Airplay will use the Wi-Fi network to transmit the data now it knows both endpoints to transmit the data between.
 
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zorinlynx

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May 31, 2007
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Once again, Apple does things half-assed.

It would be great if Bluetooth could be used to negotiate a direct Wifi connection between the devices, so it would be possible to stream media to an Apple TV even when there's no local WiFi network both devices can connect to.

It isn't even that difficult to implement, and would be awesome in situations where someone brings along an Apple TV and plugs it into an available projector or TV, then streams to it with their phone or iPad, without having to join any local Wifi networks.

But of course, this is Apple we're talking about. They tend to half-ass really cool ideas.
 
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ArtOfWarfare

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Nov 26, 2007
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the feature doesn't yet support Macs

And yet it was placed in the Mac Blog by MacRumors. Because that's where news about the Apple TV and iOS devices connecting together over Bluetooth belongs, and not in the iOS Blog.
 
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Solver

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Jan 6, 2004
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Once again, Apple does things half-assed.

It would be great if Bluetooth could be used to negotiate a direct Wifi connection between the devices, so it would be possible to stream media to an Apple TV even when there's no local WiFi network both devices can connect to.

It isn't even that difficult to implement, and would be awesome in situations where someone brings along an Apple TV and plugs it into an available projector or TV, then streams to it with their phone or iPad, without having to join any local Wifi networks.

But of course, this is Apple we're talking about. They tend to half-ass really cool ideas.

Wi-Fi is just a bit faster than bluetooth. A rather large bit. You can send high quality audio over bluetooth, but not YET the video resolution WiFi can do.
 
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iolinux333

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Feb 9, 2014
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Wi-Fi is just a bit faster than bluetooth. A rather large bit. You can send high quality audio over bluetooth, but not YET the video resolution WiFi can do.
He was arguing for Bluetooth to negotiate an ad-hoc connection I believe?
 
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w0lf

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Feb 16, 2013
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Wi-Fi is just a bit faster than bluetooth. A rather large bit. You can send high quality audio over bluetooth, but not YET the video resolution WiFi can do.

Clearly you misread what they wrote. They wanted bluetooth to initiate an ad-hoc Wi-Fi connection, not actually use a bluetooth connection to stream the content.
 
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till213

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Jul 1, 2011
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Wi-Fi is just a bit faster than bluetooth. A rather large bit. You can send high quality audio over bluetooth, but not YET the video resolution WiFi can do.

What part of "if Bluetooth could be used to negotiate a direct Wifi connection" did you not understand?

Hint: There was never any mention of sending actual media over Bluetooth...

----------

I wonder if the audio streaming is better over Bluetooth than WiFi.

Why?
 
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till213

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Jul 1, 2011
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Wifi still required right?

Yes. Bluetooth is only used for "service discovery". The actual streaming still takes place over "conventional" Wi-Fi/Ethernet connection.

Background: "Bonjour" is a "service discovery protocol" (aka "zeroconf": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-configuration_networking - Apple's Bonjour is the first such implementations).

Basically it uses "multicast", that is, whenever a device "enters" a new network (or periodically seens "update" packages) it sends "discovery" packets to any other device in the same (local) network! A few of those devices actually have "services" to offer ("Hey! I am a printer!" - "Hey! I am an audio device!" - "Hey! ..."), and they then reply to that request. Simplified.

Now as you can imagine at a university there are many many many devices, entering and leaving the local university networks, multicasting each time to every other device as they do enter/leave. That can bring network performance to a halt, hence multicast (aka "Bonjour") is usually blocked, as to stop that "flooding".

"Bonjour" was never meant to be used in large-scale networks, so in your private Wi-Fi network at home that is totally not an issue.
 
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