I just purchased an Apple TV 4K to use with my iPhone 6s plus after my Chromecast broke. I just noticed that when casting movies to my tv using Airplay, I cannot close the app doing the casting. For example, the Hulu app on my phone, which supports Airplay, will let me switch to a different app while casting a movie. However, as soon as I quit the Hulu app (i.e. double press the home button and swipe up), Apple TV will no longer play the movie. This is very different from Chromecast because after casting the movie to Chromecast, it is the Chromecast that does the job of pulling the movie from its internet source, and I can freely quit the app without affecting the casting. In fact, when casting Hulu movies through chrome cast in the past, I could quit the Hulu app and the movie would still be playing.

I understand that there is no need to quit iPhone apps, but that's not the point here.

My questions are:

  1. Does Apple TV, while performing Airplay, do the job of pulling the movies from the internet by itself, or does my iPhone have to do all the heavy lifting?

  2. If Apple TV can get the movies from the internet sources, why do the apps on my iPhone have to stay active?

  3. Is there a way to quit apps on my iPhone without affecting Airplay?


Apple's Airplay uses a mirroring model. This is different than Google Chromecast's redirect model.

When you play Hulu on your iPhone, the iPhone supplies the video to your Apple TV. As you noticed, it's the iPhone doing the work. That's why you can't quit the app on your iPhone.

Apple can play video itself from just about all the same sources as your iPhone. The apps need to stay active on your iPhone when using Airplay because they don't hand-off that job to the Apple TV. To get around this, just use the apps in your Apple TV instead.

Google's use of redirecting the task to the Chromecast also allows Google the ability to insert itself as the 'man in the middle' and see your viewing habits and shows so it can sell more advertising and monitize your use. Apple doesn't do this with Airplay.

  • But I can switch apps while airplay. Doesn't that mean the Apple TV is not mirroring my iPhone? Besides, the mirroring button (i.e. swipe up to access control center) stays off while airplaying. – A Slow Learner Aug 18 '18 at 3:19
  • It's 'like mirroring' but not exactly. I probably shouldn't have used that phrase. Apple uses specific protocols to keep it playing. If you kill the app, it's not able to provide the stream anymore because you removed it from memory so the playing will stop. – fsb Aug 18 '18 at 4:59
  • iOS has both a mirroring function and an AirPlay function. With AirPlay, you can switch to another app on iOS, although you can't close the app that's sending the AirPlay video. Still, I'm not sure why Apple couldn't implement a redirect feature - iOS just needs to send the app/URL info to the ATV, and the ATV does the rest. Apple (apple.com) does NOT have to be in the middle of that transaction, it can happen directly between iOS and tvOS. – jimtut Aug 18 '18 at 22:14
  • @jimtut This seems to be a major drawback of the ATV. Essentially, it is the iPhone that's doing the job of playing the videos. I am fine with using built-in apps made for the ATV, but there are times when I want to watch a movie that lasts for 2 hours from a website that doesn't have an app for the ATV. The iPhone battery will drain if not plugged into a power source. The phone itself will likely get heated up, too. – A Slow Learner Aug 19 '18 at 1:14
  • What I find strange is that there are multiple sources on the internet claiming that Airplay transfers the job from the iPhone to the ATV (just like Chromecast). This is why I purchased the ATV. Now I am very disappointed and find Apple really stupid to expect the phone do all the work while Airplay. I am thinking of returning the ATV to purchase an Amazon fire tv and see if it can do the job I expect. – A Slow Learner Aug 19 '18 at 1:23

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