Apple TV Wireless Streaming Improves with iCloud Integration

Apple TV

If you own both an Apple TV and an iPhone or iPad, then you probably already know all about the benefits of streaming content from your device to the TV using Apple TV. But what you may not know is that there have been some improvements to the Apple TV wireless feature that have not only improved streaming functionality, but will also ensure that you don’t have to plug in your device while you are watching in order to prevent your battery from dying.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple TV wireless streaming has been updated with a new option to stream content directly from Apple’s iCloud service. Though you will still need your iPhone or iPad for authentication purposes, once the media has been selected, Apple TV can pull the content from the cloud and stream it wirelessly to your device, which means you won’t need to worry about your device’s battery draining during long two-hour movies. Your device can be asleep or even in another room while you watch your content, and you won’t have to worry about error messages or issues while you watch.

Getting Started With Apple TV Wireless

In order to stream content via iCloud with Apple TV, you will need to update both your Apple TV firmware, and the device you are using to load the content needs to have iOS 7.0 or later. Unfortunately, that means that if you have a device that does not work with the most current operating system, you will not be able to use this feature.

Once all of your devices have been updated, you can then go into your settings menu and select the¬†AirPlay category. From there, simply tap “Play from iTunes in the Cloud,” and select the “auto” option. Your content will now automatically stream from iCloud to Apple TV.

Making Your Content More Mobile Than Ever

Aside from the battery-saving benefit, another advantage to this new streaming option is that you can now take your content to someone else’s house and watch it through their Apple TV, as long as it is authenticated with your device. This is a great way to share content with friends and family, and makes viewing content tied to your Apple account away from your home much simpler.

Friends can also stream content from your device, without logging in to your account (as long as the device they are using is in wireless range), so you don’t have to worry about sharing passwords with family or friends that you don’t trust with your password.

This is a huge leap for the digital video format, as digital content was previously restricted to the owner’s devices, and wasn’t share-able the way DVDs and Blu-Rays are. But with this new development, users can carry entire libraries of content with them, simply by having their phone in their pocket. As long as the person they are visiting has Apple TV, they can stream any content on their phone from iCloud instantly, with no need to log-in, sync, or verify anything.

A Few Small Drawbacks

Though the battery issues and ability to share content are all great reasons to stream content from iCloud instead of just mirroring with a direct link to your device, there is one drawback to using this service that consumers should know about: buffer times. As any Netflix aficionado can tell you, streaming content from the cloud can be a lengthy experience, especially when there are a lot of users online at the same time. Though this might not be that big of a deal if you are looking to watch a half-hour episode of a TV series, if you are trying to load up a two- or three-hour movie, Apple TV will have to create a huge buffer, which can take several minutes, especially if the  service is busy.

Another issue that users might encounter is video quality. Though all content is set to stream in HD automatically, if there is unusual load on the Apple TV servers, users might notice a dip in quality. Though these dips could be as short as a few seconds, if the network is overloaded, they could be as long as the length of a movie.

If you do notice that the quality of your content has dipped below acceptable levels, or you are tired of waiting on a buffer that is taking too long to load, you can always turn off automatic Apple TV wireless iCloud streaming. Just go back in to your device’s settings area, and turn off the “auto” iCloud option. Just don’t forget to plug in your device before you start wirelessly sharing again!

Photo Credit: Nakagawa