The iPhone is a powerful handheld device that enables you to view, edit and play many of the files you’d normally see on a computer. You can take photographs, watch videos, play music and create business documents right from the palm of your hand.

Although the iPhone 7 has its gorgeous 4.7in display and an immaculate stereo speaker setup, there are times when you want to send its audio or video to a dedicated device. Apple has a technology called AirPlay that enables you to do just this, you can play music wirelessly from your iPhone on an AirPlay speaker; or play video stored on your iPhone on a television set using an Apple TV. There’s also AirDrop, which lets users send files from one iOS device to another without the use for wires.

Here, we explain what AirPlay and AirDrop are, and how to use both technologies on an iPhone or iPad.

See: 15 tips for iOS 10 | Best iPhone tips | Best ways to use 3D Touch on an iPhone | iOS 11 rumours: release date and features

What is AirPlay?

Before we go any further, we should probably explain what AirPlay is, and the kind of things you can do using the technology. Essentially, AirPlay works via Wi-Fi, connecting AirPlay-compatible devices together, allowing you to wirelessly stream music amongst other things. There are two kinds of receiver – an AirPlay Speaker, or an Apple TV. While the AirPlay speaker will provide users with wireless audio playback, we argue that AirPlay doesn’t really step into its own until used with an Apple TV.

Sure, you can still stream your favourite tunes from your iPhone or iPad to your Apple TV wirelessly, but it doesn’t stop there. You can also use AirPlay to perform tasks like displaying photos and from your Photos app, playing the latest movies from Netflix and even mirroring your entire display on the TV with minimal delay (although this will rely on your Internet connection). It can essentially turn any ‘dumb’ TV into a smart one, and is probably the most-used feature of our Apple TV.

What is AirDrop?

AirDrop is slightly different to AirPlay, as AirDrop doesn’t mirror your files on another device – it sends (and receives) them wirelessly. AirDrop uses both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and works anywhere where you are in the same location as a friend, and on the same Wi-Fi network. It allows you to share files including photos and videos from your iPhone or iPad wirelessly, and for those AirPlaying on a Mac, there isn’t really any limit to what can be transferred – although large files may take a while.

How to use AirDrop

In this tutorial we’ll take a look at how to use AirDrop to share files on your iPhone with another iPhone, iPad or Mac.

1) Activate AirDrop. Open the Control Centre by sliding your finger up from the bottom of the display, tap ‘AirDrop’ and choose either Everyone or Contacts Only. Make sure you select Contacts Only unless you don’t know the other person. This should toggle on your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, if they aren’t on already. Be careful not to accidentally toggle Wi-Fi or Bluetooth off during the transfer, or it’ll be cancelled.

2) Share a photo. Open the Photos app and choose a picture or video. Tap the Share icon (Square with an arrow on it) in the bottom-left to view the sharing window. You should see the names of people you can share with under “Tap to share with AirDrop”.

3) Tap to share. Tap the name/icon of the person you want to share the image with. They should then see this notification appear on their screen - if they tap Accept, they will receive a copy of photo or video, viewable within the Photos app (don’t worry, you still keep your copy on the iPhone).

AirDrop tip: How do I change my name in AirDrop?

You might be wondering how to change the name that appears in AirDrop. This is linked to your Apple ID, rather than your device’s name. Tap Settings > iCloud > Account > Mail (under advanced) and change the Name field, although be aware that this may also change your iCloud email name.

How to use AirPlay

1) Connect to AirPlay (in iOS 10). If you want music, photos or videos to be displayed elsewhere, open Control Centre by swiping up from the bottom of the display, swipe left to access the media controls, tap the output icon (triangle with radiating circles) and select the device you want to send it to.

Connect to AirPlay (in iOS 9 or earlier). Those running iOS 9 or earlier need only access the Control Centre, tap AirPlay and select the device to send your audio/video to your chosen device. Whatever is playing through your device, be it music from Spotify or a movie from Netflix, will then be transmitted wirelessly to your TV or speaker. It’s worth noting that if it’s the first time you’re connecting to the Apple TV via AirPlay, you’ll be asked to input a code that’s displayed on the TV.  


2) Mirror your display (in iOS 10). As well as being able to mirror any media from your iPhone, iPad or Mac to your Apple TV or AirPlay-enabled speaker, you can also mirror your entire display. This allows users to play games on the big screen, show multiple people how to perform an iOS-specific task and more, and is fairly easy to set up. Simply swipe up to access the Control Centre, tap AirPlay, select the device you want to use and your display should then appear.

Mirror your display (in iOS 9 or earlier). Those running iOS 9 should follow the above instructions with one extra step at the end - make sure that ‘Mirroring’ is toggled on after selecting the output device.