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Use AppleTV video caching for faster AirPlay viewing

Dan Frakes, | May 6, 2011
Tired of waiting while your iPhone streams video, using AirPlay, to your Apple TV? You can use the AppleTV's video-buffering feature for "instant" viewing.

Do you see where I'm going here? If you do, you're a step ahead of where I was on Monday evening. That's when my wife returned from a weekend trip, and I thought she'd enjoy watching the same bike-ride videos I'd showed her mom the day before. I warned her that it would take a while for the Apple TV to buffer enough of the first video to begin watching it, so she went off to start unpacking. Yet when I tapped the AirPlay button on my iPhone to start streaming the first video, it instantly started playing on the Apple TV. As did the second. And the third.

Of course, the reason is that the Apple TV had cached the videos the night before, and those videos were still in the cache. (The following day I used the Apple TV to watch some streaming video from Netflix and the NBA channel. This evidently overwrote the videos I'd streamed from my iPhone, as the next time I tried to watch them via AirPlay, I was back to slow-as-molasses buffering.)

The upshot is that if you've got some iPhone- or iPad-hosted video you want to show to your family or friends using your Apple TV, you can save precious time—and avoid uncomfortable tech moments—by streaming that video before the entire family gathers around the TV. When the time comes to watch, the video will be ready to go.

The caveats? Caching is obviously limited to the amount of free memory on the Apple TV, so you won't be able to queue up an unlimited number of clips, and cached video remains on the Apple TV only until something else needs that memory. Also, in my testing, it appears the Apple TV only keeps cached iPhone-streamed video in memory if you let the video load completely. If I stopped AirPlay streaming before the Apple TV cached the entire video, that video was re-streamed from the beginning the next time I attempted to view it on the Apple TV.

But if you want the convenience of AirPlay streaming without the wait, this tip can come in handy—especially for those gather-the-family viewing opportunities.


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