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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 →