It seems Apple’s latest update for Apple TV, version 6.1, hides a pretty special skill up its sleeve. You can now search for connectable devices for Apple TV using AirPlay over Bluetooth, bypassing the Bonjour gateway.
I’d discovered this new feature during the Apple TV 6.1 release notes last week but finally managed to field test it at a school. After running a diagnostics app on the WiFi, we found that the Bonjour gateway ports were not open (unfortunately a very common occurrence for school networks). I continued to test AirPlay on my iPad regardless as the Apple TV (version 6.1) was on the network and so was my iPad (iOS 7.1). And incredibly, AirPlay still worked thanks to Bluetooth.
This is great news for school IT admin teams setting up iOS device and Apple TV pairings as, previously, it could be quite difficult for Apple TVs to discover devices on networks that might block Bonjour. Now you can just use Bluetooth. All you need is: an Apple TV updated to 6.1, an iOS device updated to 7.1, and IP connectivity between both devices.
Update 6.1 also adds a security option to require that iOS devices or Macs be verified with a one-time, onscreen code before using AirPlay (requires iOS 7.1 or later on an iOS device or a Mac with Mac OS X 10.9.2 or later). You can find out more, and see how to update your Apple TV here.
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