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Want Airplay on Your Existing TV? You’re Stuck With Two Options

A man using AirPlay to cast Game of Thrones to his TV.

Apple’s AirPlay protocol allows you to cast video from your phone or laptop to a TV. It’s a useful feature, but if you want to add AirPlay support to an existing TV, you’re stuck with just two options.

Update Your Smart TV

A smart TV updating.
AFANASEV IVAN/Shutterstock

Smart TVs used to rarely come with AirPlay support. But earlier this year, LG, Sony, Samsung, and VIZIO announced that some of their smart TVs will gain AirPlay support through software updates. Additionally, certain new models from these companies will be released with AirPlay support out of the box.

To see if your TV will get AirPlay, take a look at Apple’s list of AirPlay-ready TVs. Some of the TVs on this list are labeled with the word “announced,” which simply means they don’t have AirPlay support yet, but they will in the future.

If your TV should have support and is fully updated but AirPlay isn’t working, it might not be turned on. Go to its settings, open the “General” menu, and look for an option to enable AirPlay.

Buy an Apple TV Streaming Box

A photo of the Apple TV4K streaming box.

If your TV doesn’t have AirPlay support built-in, you’re stuck buying an official Apple TV 4K streaming box. Maybe “stuck” isn’t the right word. These boxes have fantastic interfaces; they support 4K HDR video; and they work with a mess of streaming apps (including Netflix and Prime Video).

Yes, other versions of the Apple TV are cheaper than the Apple TV 4K—and they’ll work just fine with AirPlay. We specifically suggest buying the Apple TV 4K  because it’s future-proofed for 4K streaming, and it’s a bit faster than the other Apple TV products (for something this expensive, you want it to last as long as possible).

While it’s hard to justify a $140-$170 price tag if you’re just trying to mirror YouTube videos from your phone to your TV,  Apple isn’t handing out any other options. The company has made an incredible effort to crack down on third-party AirPlay support, and not a single third-party AirPlay receiver on the market actually works.

A Raspberry Pi Can Stream AirPlay Audio, But Not Video

The Raspberry Pi 4 logo over the Pi 4 circuit board.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation

The go-to answer for video streaming woes is usually “buy a Raspberry Pi,” or “use Kodi.” Well, sorry Buster, but Raspberry Pi and Kodi can’t save you from Apple’s tyranny.

Yes, the internet’s full of old Raspberry Pi AirPlay guides. When Apple rolled out the iOS 9 update (in 2015), however, third-party devices and software (including Pi and Kodi) completely lost their ability to stream AirPlay video.

But, and this isn’t much of a concession, the Pi can still stream AirPlay audio. We wouldn’t call this a great alternative to Bluetooth (which is supported by the Pi 3 B and the Pi 4), but it’s certainly an option that, you know, exists.

We suggest streaming AirPlay audio through the Kodi application on your Raspberry Pi. It’s a three-step process. Simply go to the Kodi settings, open the Services menu, and enable AirPlay.

If you want to make things more difficult for yourself, you could stream AirPlay audio through the Sharepoint-Sync software on your Pi. An installation and usage guide is available on the Sharepoint-Sync Github page.

Avoid Unofficial AirPlay Video Receivers

The VCAST unofficial AirPlay video receiver marked out with a big red X.

In a pinch, unofficial AirPlay video receivers (like the VCAST Dongle) can be tempting. They’re cheap, they have decent reviews on Amazon, and they claim to work with a variety of casting protocols (DLNA, Google Cast) alongside AirPlay.

But these devices are garbage. Don’t buy them.

Again, Apple’s great at cracking down on unofficial AirPlay receivers. Even if one of these third-party receivers works right now, it won’t work forever. Not to mention, services like Netflix and Prime Video have protocol protection, which means they work only on streaming devices approved by the company.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »