Prevent AirPlay from Dropping Out

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Keep AirPlay Source Device Unlocked

AirPlay should work when a device is locked, but this isn’t always the case. It will function when playing music. In certain cases, AirPlay will stop video playback on a locked device. I’ve found that AirPlay is much more reliable when the source device (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch) is left unlocked.

Go to Settings > General > Auto-Lock and change it to Never. You can conserve battery life by turning screen brightness down all the way. Just remember to change the Auto-Lock setting back to your preferred setting. Using short Auto-Lock times can preserve battery life and reduce wear on the sleep/wake button.

It’s also best to leave your music app open and keep it on the Now Playing screen. This seems to give priority to music streaming and AirPlay processes. It also makes it easier to control music playback and view track information.

Device Placement Affects AirPlay Dropouts

AirPlay dropouts tend to happen when I walk in between my WiFi router and Apple TV. This flaw is exclusive to Apple TV 4. It seems to be a consequence of Apple’s AirPlay “overhaul”. AirPlay is faster, but less reliable, presumably due to a smaller buffer size. For whatever reason, their quality assurance process didn’t catch this problem. They don’t seem to be interested in fixing it either. Just accept it and try to make the best of it.

Device placement matters a lot when it comes to both the Apple TV unit and AirPlay source device. Make sure to place your Apple TV within range of your WiFi router. You can check WiFi signal strength by going to Settings > Network. Make sure you have at least 4 “bars”. (They’re actually circles on Apple TV. Think different!) Even though my Apple TV gets 5 “bars”, I still have AirPlay problems. Poor WiFi reception would exacerbate the problem.

If your WiFi reception is weak, consider placing your Apple TV in a different location. This may not be possible, as it needs to be hard-wired to your television. A WiFi range extender can help boost the signal. If your Apple TV is close enough to your router, you may want to consider connecting it using an ethernet cable.

Make sure to place your Apple TV in an open area, unobscured by cabinet doors or other obstacles. Placing your Apple TV higher up can also improve WiFi reception.

Placement of your source device can also influence WiFi reception and AirPlay reliability. The iPhone, iPad and iPod touch all have different WiFi modules and antenna configurations. I figured out the optimal placement of my old 2011 iPad 2 by looking at the iFixit teardown. I place my iPad with its WiFi module facing my router, and it seems to help. You can also use a free app such as Wi-Fi SweetSpots to determine optimal positioning. The app displays real-time data on WiFi connection speeds. My iPhone 6 works best when the top is pointing toward my router. next page →

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9 comments

  1. I have lived in the Apple “world” since 1984, but I have to say that Airplay and the HomePod have been one of the greatest disappointments.

    Airplay which although proprietary could be great, but simply isn’t, suffering constant drop outs and no stereo output on a mac from anywhere except the Music app, and on a Mac different points to access it and control it, so reminiscent of the endless windows in the MS environment.

    I have a very powerful router and my homepods are all of 12 feet from it in the same room, but they are constantly dropping out, I have lost count of how many times I have reset them, restarted the router, the mac etc but nothing cures it, hit pause in Music and 9 times out of ten the only way to get the music back is to quit Music, restart the Mac, the Router and reset the HomePods, about 15 minutes each time. Try swapping between playing out of one Homepod only on say Amazon Music (No Stereo of course) and the Apple Music App and you are in for a load of grief.
    The sound quality from the HomePods is truly awesome, but everything else is unforgiveably poor, If only I could find a way of making a physical connection to them………..

    1. I don’t think Apple tests AirPlay under real world conditions. All they need to do is increase the buffer, and it would be flawless. But they seem to assume everyone has flawless WiFi and 300 Mbps Internet connections. AirPlay can be very frustrating. Apple Music also had a problem with dropouts. Both Spotify and Google Play Music are much more reliable.

  2. Before I upgrades to Apple TV 4 from 2 I never had a drop out issue. I have tried my Mac book, I phone and I pad and they all drop out. Apple have gone backwards

  3. This is a lot of rubbish. My ATV is a wired connection. Airplay dropouts galore. It has zero to do with lack of buffer. It’s simply yet another crappy coding job by Apple marketing. Marketing as I doubt they have any competent tech types still employed.

    1. Thanks for the new information. I never had the opportunity to test ethernet on my Apple TV, as I would have needed a very long cable.

      Apple engineering does the coding. Their marketing does the lying.

      Yes, Apple doesn’t attract top talent. The best and brightest go to startups. With Apple’s sky-high stock price and an uncertain future, it’s unlikely any new hire will make a fortune from stock options. The company is a mere shadow of what it was just three years ago.

      I switched back to Windows and bought an Android phone. Apple disgusts me. I bought my mom an iMac, the Fusion drive failed. I brought it in, with all of the new pandemic rule hassles, and they didn’t fix it properly. I have to bring it in again. I filed a complaint with the CA Attorney General, and Apple lied, saying that I didn’t give them a chance to fix it. They’re rotten to the core. A company I once admired has done nothing but alienate me with mediocre products, buggy code, horrid manufacturing, poor tech support and lies.

      You’d think after this ordeal with the iMac, they’d replace it or refund the money. They’re in clear violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, but their legal department essentially misrepresents the facts, because the consumer advocate will easily fold. They know I’m not going to hire a lawyer over a $1400 iMac. I am considering small claims court. Their violation of Magnuson-Moss is obvious and blatant. Not only did I bring in the computer for repair, their support experience amounts to undue duty to the customer.

      I absolutely can’t stand Apple. The way they pander to progressive politics, as they enslave overseas workers, by proxy (of course) always bothered me. With poor technology, Apple no longer has anything to offer me.

      Apple TV is about the worst Apple product ever made. It’s the C team. All they really care about is the iPhone and Messages. It’s all about Millennials and Gen Z taking photos of themselves. I think there’s a Steely Dan song about that…

  4. To Fix this issue go to Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff > Automatically AirPlay to TVs > Change it to Never.

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