Apple TV 4: Peer-To-Peer AirPlay Without WiFi

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How to Use Peer-To-Peer AirPlay

Peer-to-peer AirPlay isn’t one of those easy-to-use Apple features. You really have to go through a bit of effort to get it to work. Ideally, AirPlay should just failover to peer-to-peer mode if your Apple TV or source device aren’t on the WiFi network. Instead, Apple has given their users a kludgy rattletrap of settings changes and restarts. Obviously, peer-to-peer AirPlay is something you’ll use only when you have to use it.

This article assumes that you have already updated your Apple TV and iOS device with operating systems that support peer-to-peer AirPlay. If not, please refer to the previous system requirements section. This article also assumes that you are using an Apple TV 4 and iOS device. The process is similar for an Apple TV 3 or Macintosh.

First, start up your Apple TV and launch the Settings app. Click on network and then Wi-Fi. If you are currently connected to a WiFi network, click on this network. You will see the WiFi settings screen for this network. Click on Forget Network. We need to make sure Apple TV is not connected to any WiFi network for peer-to-peer AirPlay to work.

Your iOS device should also be disconnected from any WiFi network. This isn’t mandatory, and in some cases it may be beneficial to leave it on. I’ve found peer-to-peer AirPlay to be more reliable when WiFi is turned off. Tap on Settings > Wi-Fi. Next, tap on the “i” button next to the connected WiFi network. Tap on “Forget This Network”. Peer to peer AirPlay operates over Bluetooth, so it needs to be turned on. If it isn’t already on, swipe up from the bottom of any screen to reveal Control Center. Tap on the Bluetooth button to turn it on. Also, make sure that WiFi is turned on, even though you’re not connected to a network. It’s needed to display the AirPlay control, which should now show up. If you don’t see the AirPlay control, try moving your iOS device close to your Apple TV. If you still don’t see it, try restarting your iOS device. When it comes back online, you should see the AirPlay control. If not, try restarting your Apple TV. Peer to peer AirPlay is a messy, kludgy feature. Most problems can be solved by restarting your iOS device and Apple TV.

The AirPlay control should now be visible on your iOS device. Tap on the control. If you don’t see your Apple TV listed, move your iOS device closer to your Apple TV. If you plan on using screen mirroring, keep in mind that your iOS device has to be very close to your Apple TV. This makes it less useful for presentations.

Your iOS device may prompt you for an AirPlay password. If this is the case, you will see a 4 digit passcode displayed on your Apple TV. Enter the 4 digit code on your iOS device.

When you finally manage to connect via AirPlay, you are limited as to what you can beam. Music works well, but videos do not. I was able to use my cellular data connection during a peer-to-peer AirPlay session. Unfortunately, Netflix and YouTube wouldn’t work. I had a video Podcast downloaded, and was able to successfully beam it to Apple TV. Some streaming video apps may work. There are reports that Hulu works with peer-to-peer AirPlay. Make sure to try both screen mirroring and “standard” AirPlay.

Limitations of Peer to Peer AirPlay

Peer to peer AirPlay is far from perfect. It’s par for the course, as Apple’s quality has plummeted over the past few years. There’s nothing elegant about peer-to-peer AirPlay. (continue…)

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for writing this article. I have wondered this since the ATV1. It’s too bad they didn’t capitalize on this feature. It could have made the whole experience much different.
    Also I enjoyed your writing in the explanation of your process. I felt I was right there with you experiencing those pesky Apple quirks.

    1. THANK YOU!!!! This was so helpful…there’s no way I would have figured this out on my own. I did everything I thought I should and it wasn’t working. After reading your instructions, I realized I missed this crucial part: “Also, make sure that WiFi is turned on, even though you’re not connected to a network. It’s needed to display the AirPlay control, which should now show up”.
      And it DID!!!! Party over here. I appreciate your detailed, informative, CORRECT help. 🙂

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