Until now AirPlay has been a way for you to stream music from your iTunes to wireless speakers, or video from your iOS device to an Apple TV. However, with Reflection you can now connect your iOS device to your Mac wirelessly using AirPlay and mirror your screen.
Head past the break to see how Reflection holds up.
Getting this up and running is so simple it needs almost no introudction. Simply download the Mac app from the website – $14.99 or a free 10 minute trial version – and you’re good to get streaming with your iPhone 4S or iPad 2. There’s no installation on your iOS device, you must only activate the AirPlay feature on the device.
Despite setup being very simple, there are a few changes to make to optimize the mirroring for your device and to get it how you’d like. As you can see in the shot above the app allows for different inputs such as optimizing the screen for retina devices. While playing with the app I noticed that there was some lag, but having the correct device selected reduced that sort of lag significantly.
There are various other options such as adding a frame around the screen for a more realistic approach and setting it to launch into full-screen mode automatically.
There have been many efforts in the past to get what’s on your Mac onto your portable device, and quite rightly so. Being able to move seamlessly from one device to another is something that could prove to be very interesting and something it seems Apple is working on with features such as iCloud. There are apps that emulate your Mac’s display on your iOS device such as Splashtop or even allow it to be used an extra display Air Display, while some are aimed towards designers, letting them preview their work on the device such as the recently released Skala preview. However there have been comparatively few efforts to go in the opposite direction and attempt to get what is on your iPhone onto your Mac.
We have not yet reached the point where our devices can run so smoothly with each other, but this is a step in the right direction. While some may see this as purely a gimmick, there is potential for some great use of the app. Apps that embrace AirPlay and work well with it, such as Real Racing 2 really shine when it comes to Reflection. In the example of this game you can have your iPhone as the controller and view your car on your Mac. Sure there are limits here that it is not full screen and thus maybe isnt the best experience – but I believe that is a shortcoming that could be addressed fairly quickly. Note: yes the sound does come via your Mac speakers.
Skype, Facetime and other such video calling apps can work with Reflection. You could place the iPhone window on your Mac’s display and continue working on whatever you are doing without having to be distracted by having to look at your iPhone. While is just a small example, and may not be the best thing since sliced bread, it demonstrates the capabilties of the app and how you can use it in many different ways.
Perhaps more useful for iOS app developers (and reviewers) is the screen recording potential. Due to there being no way to record the screen of your iOS device without Jailbreaking, this could open new ways for developers to create demos of their apps.
You could simply fire up Reflection and create a new screen recording, with an app like Quicktime or Screeny, and from there easily record session to create easy and complete demos of how your app works. Other similar circumstances such as demoing your app at conferences or investors is now significantly easier that show then a video or screenshots. This isn’t yet a flawless method as the screenrate can stutter from time to time, nothing to cause you to not use the app, but something developers certainly wouldn’t want to show up in their application demo.
You can not actually use the device with your Mac’s mouse, it is only reflecting what appears on your iOS device’s screen.
Overall there is great potential with this app if small things such as the screenrate are improved for flawless playback on your Mac. Another welcome addition would be for a full screen mode such as when you connect to an Apple TV. This would be hugely beneficial as it would make playing games and videos from your device infinitely better on your Mac.
Probably my biggest concern for this app is the price, at $14.99. This is a high price for an app that copies the functionality meant for Apple TV playback and ports it onto the Mac. No doubt many hours went into this, but I feel a slightly lower price around $7-8 would be much more appreciated and get many more people using the app and enjoying its feautres. It’s a fun app that has a long way to go before we can call it perfect, but its well under way and at the moment still fun to use with some great functionality.