AirPlay Direct Could Be The Best Business And Classroom Presentation Tool Ever

AirPlay Direct Could Be The Best Business And Classroom Presentation Tool Ever

AirPlay Direct would easily win fans in business, education, and even IT.

One of the first thoughts I had when Apple announced AirPlay Mirroring as a feature in Mountain Lion was that it would make an excellent mobile presentation tool and one that would be far easier to bring to business meetings, trade shows, or client-site training events than hauling a projector. With just a MacBook Air and Apple TV, you can plug into any HDTV, display, or projector that supports HDMI and be ready to go. That’s a great combination for any business traveler.

If Apple does announce AirPlay Direct, a new version of AirPlay that doesn’t require a Wi-Fi network, the company will have made the lives of business travelers, trainers, and educators even easier. It will probably also make network administrators in both business and education a bit happier as well.

For business presentations, trainings, and even classroom use (K-12 or high education), the Apple TV is a great solution. It can be installed with HDTV sets in a conference room or classroom permanently or temporarily. The Apple TV’s minimal size and cabling needs mean that’s an ultra-portable device for connecting to HDMI-enabled TVs, displays, or projectors in any office or education setting you might find yourself in – this inexpensive gadget even delivers access to legacy presentation systems that can’t handle HDMI.

Mountain Lion on a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro and an Apple TV are a great solution because the MacBook can create its own Wi-Fi network if needed – one which the Apple TV can join. AirPlay Direct would simplify that setup process even further if it supports Apple’s portable and desktop Mac models, which seems like a pretty reasonable assumption. Just power the devices on one the Apple TV is attached to whatever display system you’ll be using.

AirPlay Direct can even minimize the hardware and setup needs further. Load a presentation onto your iPhone (or your iPad). Plug in and power on the Apple TV, launch the iOS version of Apple’s Keynote or an alternative mobile Office-type suite like Office2 or QuickOffice, and you’re ready to go. Sync some videos to your iPhone or look them up on the fly using YouTube and you can go even further than doing a static presentation. That’s only the beginning depending – iOS apps can deliver even more value for specific presentation or instructional needs.

AirPlay Direct could even make offices or schools that already have dedicated Apple TV installations more user and IT-friendly. With a direct connection, neither device relies on a Wi-Fi network. That means Apple TVs don’t even have to be on the network at all to be valuable tools. Apple TV setup and administration is simplified to almost nothing – just name the device, set a password to limit use to authorized staff, and IT’s work is done.

AirPlay Direct might even resolve some of the problems that Apple devices are causing on college campuses. As we reported earlier this summer, a group of higher education IT professionals has petitioned Apple to modify AirPlay (as well as AirPrint and Bonjour) so that Apple TVs – or other AirPlay devices – and the iOS devices or Macs connecting to them don’t overload Wi-Fi networks. AirPlay Direct could certainly improve those situations as well as the related concern that users could start accessing the wrong devices because they’re all connected to a single network. AirPlay devices could be allowed in dorm rooms, and be used, but be barred from connecting to a college Wi-Fi network.

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  • freerange

    I love the bit about the college IT departments. Dudes, get with it and up your networks! Your students are on the cutting edge of digital everything and you need to meet their needs. Lord knows you’re charging them enough money!!!!!

  • RaptorOO7

    This is a great solution if it arrives, and will allow users like me who have an iOS device to stream out content wherever we are. Heck take your AppleTV with you to a meeting as part of your presentation kit. Since my current MBP doesn’t support the AirPlay feature its nice to know it’s coming for my iOS devices :)

  • Jonnyeklund

    You can share your network as a hotspot to the AppleTV. You don’t have to have a wifi network for that.

  • technochick

    You can share your network as a hotspot to the AppleTV. You don’t have to have a wifi network for that.

    Different game. That would be used if you wanted to download or stream something.

    This would be for sending from your iPad/iPhone/computer, directly to the Apple TV without having to log into wifi networks at all.

  • Franklin McMahon

    Great ideas, but there is one big problem: Apple TV does not support Enterprise Wi-Fi security. The last Apple TV did not, and the newest unit does not as well. Meaning Apple TV cannot use the network, and hence can’t be an Airplay receiver. So I agree with the many business uses listed here, but Airplay may be locked out in most companies because of security. I wish Apple would make this seemingly easy update to their wi-fi settings, as there is tremendous potential for business use, Apple TV and Airplay.

  • ryanfaas

    Franklin, that’s a good point about the Apple TV. However, it’s one that would likely be a non-issue if Apple ships AirPlay Direct – neither device would need to be connected to a corporate Wi-Fi network for content to be streamed to the Apple TV.

    It’s also worth remembering that the Apple TV does have an Ethernet port and it can be connected to a home or enterprise network without using Wi-Fi at all.

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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