Friday, 7 February 2014

Apple TV and Reflector App

Apple TV (ATV for short) is a little gadget made by apple which you connect to a (tv) screen. It has built in wifi-connectivity as well as a small number of apps such as iTunes, Flickr, YouTube etc - almost a mini computer. In schools it is most often used for its ability to mirror (almost) any apple device to the screen wirelessly. At approx. NZ$150 (plus cost of a HDMI cable) it is not the cheapest way to show what's on an iPad on a bigger screen, but it is quite versatile.

Alternatively, you can purchase an app (programme) for your computer, e.g. Reflector App. This programme costs US$12.99 and installs on your computer (Windows or Mac). When you run the programme, your iPad can mirror to the computer (which might be connected to a big screen). One big advantage of this over the ATV is that you can show multiple devices at one time. However, you have one computer tied up with running this.

Why use it?

  • To show students what to do to get to an app on the iPad / how to use an app on the iPad
  • To use your iPad with the class and everyone can see what is on the screen (e.g. Popplet app, or a website)
  • For ATV: To use one of the built-in apps like YouTube and show on the big screen without needing a dedicated computer connected to the screen.
  • To have students share their work on the iPad on the big screen. (Note: The person holding the iPad is in control of the mirroring).

Both solutions depend on reliable wifi, the iPads need to be connected to the same wifi as the ATV or the computer running the reflector app. 

How do I mirror my iPad?

On iOS7, swipe up from the bottom of your iPad screen. If your apple tv or your reflector app are running, you will see it in the middle. Tap it, then select the device you want to mirror to and enable mirroring.

A little tip: It pays to set up your apple tv with a distinct name (I called mine 'Monika's apple tv', but you might want to call it 'apple tv room 3' or similar) as in a school setting your apple tv range might overlap - and you don't want to have your puberty education video accidentally appear on the screen in the new entrants' room!


You can't see your device appear when you swipe up on the iPad?

  • Ensure ATV or reflector app are turned on. (Note: When using the reflector app, the name of your computer will appear in the iPad menu).
  • Have you selected the device and mirroring on the iPad?
  • Are your iPad and the ATV / computer running the reflector app on the same wifi?
You are mirroring the image but can't hear the sound?

  • Ensure volume is turned up on the iPad and the ATV / laptop. Note: You might want to check if little hands have tutued with the headphone socket on the iPad.
  • Does your screen have a 'sound out'? E.g. some of the IWBs have a separate sound control behind or to the side of the board, but your ATV is sending video and sound to the projector only (via the HDMI cable). One work around we have trialled is connecting the 'sound out' on the projector with a 'sound in' on the soundbox - you have to remember to change your sound source. Alternatively you could purchase a little USB charged speaker set nd attach it to 'sound out' on the projector.
Your ATV is stuck on 'setting date and time'? (As a result of this only the icons Computers and Settings will show, no connection to iTunes possible. Mirroring will still work.)

  • Connect your ATV to a different network, e.g. your cellphone wifi hotspot. This should resolve the issue, set date and time automatically and restore all your missing app icons (YouTube, Flickr etc.). When you reconnect to your regular network, ATV should work fine.
Your mirroring and / or streaming of videos is lagging and / or drops off?

  • You need robust wireless for mirroring to be effective.
  • You can help this by connecting the ATV / computer with reflector app to the network with an ethernet cable therefore reducing pressure on the wifi. Check with your techie if they both run on the same network, e.g. if you have a student byod and a different staff network.
I hope you find this useful! Please feel free to add to this in the comments box, or email me and I will add it to the post!

1 comment:

  1. This little device is great for those of us who have trouble seeing our devices. We used it i our dorm to study at night, and all of us girls were able to follow along just like you were showing a film on a screen. The ATV was a huge time saver and I still us it today for playing games or chatting with family.

    Cordia Remsen @ RB’s Computer Service


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