Apple TV Update 6.1 Allows AirPlay Discoverability Over Bluetooth

Wednesday March 12, 2014 7:16 PM PDT by Husain Sumra
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.

appletvbluetoothImage via AFP548

This 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.

Related roundup: Apple TV

Top Rated Comments

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9 months ago
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.
Rating: 7 Votes
9 months ago
That is a great feature. Apple should have done this long time ago.
Rating: 5 Votes
9 months ago

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.
Rating: 3 Votes
9 months ago

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.
Rating: 2 Votes
9 months ago

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.
Rating: 2 Votes
9 months ago

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


You apparently didn't bother to think this through. In fact, your comment is entirely irrelevant to this article. Allowing Bluetooth handshaking does NOT have anything to do with ad hoc streaming. They are two entirely different things. To allow this to happen, ad hoc streaming would have to be added, completely independent of Bluetooth, to the AppleTV software stack. In fact, while this capability would be nice, there is no need for bluetooth to be involved at all, only the ability for the AppleTV to join ad hoc networks, which, again, has nothing to do with Bluetooth.
Rating: 2 Votes
9 months ago

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
Rating: 1 Votes
9 months ago

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?
Rating: 1 Votes
9 months ago

That is a great feature. Apple should have done this long time ago.


When you have limited resources as is the case with all companies, you need to have priorities. For everything that you 'do' there will always be something that you don't do. It's very easy to say they should have done this a long time ago but that would have meant not doing something else that someone else would have said the same thing about.

It irks me when people see the iPhone 5s (or any other evolution of a product) and say things like, "this is what it should have been like from the start". It's called evolution and we should all be thankful for it or we would all still be single cell organisms. ;)
Rating: 1 Votes
9 months ago
It's still not clear to me if now - as we can have Bluetooth discovery - can ATV and the other iOS device be on different subnet? My ATV3 and iPad2 are on different subnets and can't get ATV listed as an AirPlay device on iPad. Even if they can see each other, thus there is "IP connectivity between both devices".
For example I get info in xml from ATV when typing http://192.168.0.15:7000/server-info on the iPad with IP 192.168.1.44.

So the quoted piece makes me confused. Of course, Bluetooth is turned on on both end.
Rating: 1 Votes

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