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. 

Here, we explain what AirPlay is, and how to use the wireless technology on an iPhone or iPad.

Got an iPhone 7? You'll want to look at the best ways to use 3D Touch on an iPhone.

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)

The addition of an Apple TV can turn any ‘dumb’ TV into a smart one, and if you haven't got one already, you can pick one up from Apple starting at £139

You might also like: 15 tips for iOS 10

How to use AirPlay

As long as you've got an Apple TV or AirPlay-enabled speaker, here's how to use AirPlay in iOS 10. 

Connect to AirPlay (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.

Mirror your display (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 iOS display should then on your Apple TV.

Read next: iOS 11 rumours: release date and features

Connect to AirPlay (iOS 9 or earlier)

The process is similar in iOS 9 and earlier, although with one or two differences. 

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.  

AirDrop

Mirror your display (iOS 9 or earlier)

The process for mirroring your display in iOS 9 or earlier is almost the exact same as in iOS 10, but with one extra step. As with iOS 10, swipe up to access the Control Centre, tap AirPlay, select the device you'd like to mirror your display to and make sure that 'Mirroring' is toggled on.

Read next: How to use Control Centre on iPhone and iPad