Keynote over AirPlay is not there yet

I’ve just completed a semester teaching in a classroom with an AppleTV. I had high hopes for using AirPlay on both the Mac and iPad to experiment with some new modes of teaching. In particular, I had hoped to incorporate the TV as a display for figures while developing notes and diagrams of the topic on the chalkboard. As is typical with change, some things worked well, other things didn’t, and still others need a radical new solution in order to work the way I want it to.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

airplayMirrorWhen it works, AirPlay mirroring is a great presentation tool for the classroom. Part of what makes it great is the wireless-ness of it, which was tempered for me by connection issues (see below). Nonetheless, it feels right and good to present from the iPad without plugging it in to anything — AirPlay and the iPad were made for each other. It’s also a nice feature to use on the Mac, but using AirPlay from the Mac exposes a weakness that isn’t as obvious on the iPad.

It is clear from the name — AirPlay Mirroring — that AirPlay is doing screen mirroring to an external display. This is great for things like movies and games, but when I attach my Mac to an external display, I expect more than mirroring. I expect the external monitor to be an additional display, not an alternate display. For example, I make heavy use of the Presenter Display features in Keynote to be able to see my notes about the current slide and a preview of the next slide (it helps with transitions, and makes me appear to be prepared). When mirroring the display, though, the Presenter Display is not available, and you see the exact same thing on both displays. I first encountered this on the iPad and assumed it was a limitation due to hardware, but mirroring works the same way on the Mac. UPDATE: Presenter Display works in Keynote for iOS, just not on the Mac (see comment below). It’s unfortunate, and really limits the situations in which I find myself wanting to use AirPlay to present from the Mac.

This brings me to my next point, which is that I have yet to find software that supports the way I want to use the technology. As I mentioned above, I want the display panel to host supplements that I’m not able to draw quickly in chalk: images, micrographs, animations, videos, charts, etc. I would like to place all my supplements for a topic on a light table and pick the one I want to show next. In other words, I don’t want to march through a “deck”, I want to interactively choose from an assortment of thumbnails based on the way the idea is developing in class discussion. I’m surprised this doesn’t exist yet, either as a standalone app, or as a mode within existing presentation programs. Of course, such an app would require that the iPad/Mac display were not mirroring to the presentation display, so maybe it’s a non-starter, but a guy can dream, right?

One of the problems I encountered was technical and has to do with the fact that AppleTV is designed for home networks, not enterprise networks. I’ve written about it before:

The big sticking point with the AppleTV in offices and schools as it stands is that it doesn’t support enterprise-level WiFi authentication.

What this means is that the AppleTV needs to be configured specially from the network administrator side to be able to get on the network. Fortunately our Information Services worked hard to figure out how to make this happen.

In addition to the authentication snafu, apparently many enterprise networks don’t support the protocol behind AirPlay. Our networking vendor here at OWU has slowly rolled out new firmware to support AirPlay, but it’s only been deployed on our guest network. This means I need to switch networks on my Mac or iPad when I get to class to be able to use AirPlay, as the guest network is less secure and therefore inappropriate for day-to-day use. While this sounds like no big deal, in practice, switching networks from either a Mac or iPad is a slow, tedious, unpredictable process. Sometimes the guest network is detected, other times not. Sometimes it prompts me to enter my credentials, other times not. To top it off, when I do manage to join the guest network, AirPlay mirroring doesn’t find the AppleTV about one-third of the time. All of this adds up to a system that is unreliable enough to be unusable for class, at least for now.

To wrap up, there is no real advantage to AirPlay mirroring from the Mac or iPad unless you really require the wireless connection. The loss of Presenter Display is too high a cost for me to pay. Until somebody develops a presentation app that takes greater advantage of AirPlay, or until I find an app that already does, I’ll probably stick with a wired connection.

11 thoughts on “Keynote over AirPlay is not there yet”

  1. The Keynote app for iPad has a presenter view while using AirPlay mirroring.

    I was also thinking of selecting items from a lightboard… The built-in Photos app allows you to view thumbnails and then open one selected. Of course, it doesn’t have a presenter view…

    1. Good catch on presenter view in Keynote for iOS over AirPlay. That makes it all the more bizarre that it is missing in the Mac version. Makes me want to double-check that I haven’t missed it!

  2. In Keynote you can create a slide full of links to the slides you would need to show after it, and you can also configure your presentation to return to a main slide with links to other sections. Not as useful as a light table, but a workaround for your needs.

    What I really wanted was full HD compatibility: why should I present black bars on the sides of the main screen just because the iPad has a 4:3 screen?

    1. Ruben, I did not realize you could create such an index page in Keynote, that’s a step in the right direction at least. I agree with you on the HD output though, the black pillars look awful!

  3. Another limitation I’ve found is the ability to stream to more than one Apple TV simultaneously. I do a few events each year in large halls where I project to two screens. I had hoped I could stream my Keynote presentation to two Apple TVs, similar to the way you can stream music to multiple AirPlay enabled devices, but no.

    Also, with the mirroring issue, I found that if I closed my laptop while presenting I could control the Keynote presentation using the Keynote Remote app on my phone or iPad while I walked around the room. However, there’s a problem with this too. If you remain on one slide for more than a couple of minutes, the screen goes black and the computer loses the connection to the Apple TV. This has nothing to do with sleep or screensaver settings, it’s just something that AirPlay does. When it happens you have to open the laptop and reestablish the AirPlay connection– all while the projector is showing the desktop, not the presentation.

    1. Hello Greg, I manage to project to four different screens, in different rooms even using an AppleTV connected to an HDMI matrix. The matrix also allows me to display other media on different TVs if I wish.

      1. Hi Vaughn,
        If I understand correctly, using a matrix doesn’t allow you to project to multiple screens wirelessly, does it? That’s my objective– to not have to run projector cables across the room and be limited by the length and placement of the cables.

      2. Vaughn: sounds like an amazing A/V setup in your organization, I’m envious!

        Greg: Your experience echoes mine so closely it’s not even funny. The Keynote + AirPlay solution is so close to working great, but falls down in my environment just enough to make it too risky to rely on.

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