AirPlay is a family of protocols implemented by Apple to view various types of media content on the Apple TV from any iOS device or iTunes. In this documentation, “iOS device” refers to an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. The following scenarios are supported by AirPlay:

  • Display photos and slideshows from an iOS device.
  • Stream audio from an iOS device or iTunes.
  • Display videos from an iOS device or iTunes.
  • Show the screen content from an iOS device or OS X Mountain Lion. This is called AirPlay Mirroring. It requires hardware capable of encoding live video without taking too much CPU, so it is only available on iPhone 4S, iPad 2, the new iPad, and Macs with Sandy Bridge CPUs.

Audio streaming is also supported from an iOS device or iTunes to an AirPort Express base station or a 3rd party AirPlay-enabled audio device. Initially this was called AirTunes, but it was later renamed to AirPlay when Apple added video support for the Apple TV.

This document describes these protocols, as implemented in Apple TV software version 5.0, iOS 5.1 and iTunes 10.6. They are based on well-known standard networking protocols such as Multicast DNS, HTTP, RTSP, RTP, PTP or NTP, with custom extensions.

All these information have been gathered by using various techniques of reverse engineering, so they might be somewhat inaccurate and incomplete.