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Apple working on ways to implement better privacy in AirPlay

Apple’s AirPlay lets you wirelessly stream what’s on your iOS devices and Macs to an HDTV and speakers. The company has filed for a patent (number 20150242062) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for “selectively broadcasting audio and video content” that would involve changes in the technology, especially long the lines of privacy.

The patent mention, among other things, techniques that let you create one or more “broadcast profiles,” where each broadcast profile, when applied on your iOS or OS X device, that lets you stream content without exposing personal data. 

In the patent filing, Apple says that portable computing devices such as Mac laptops and iPhones are commonly being used to broadcast content to auxiliary displays (e.g., projectors and televisions). A common use-case scenario involves a user loading a slideshow presentation onto his or her iOS or OS X device,  connecting the portable computing device to an auxiliary display, and then causing the device to output the slideshow presentation to the auxiliary display. 

Various interfaces can be used to connect portable computing devices to auxiliary displays, including Digital Visual Interface (DVI) cables and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) cables. More recently, however, network-based interfaces are being implemented and enable users to share their content on nearby auxiliary displays through local networks (such as a WiFi network). One example of a network-based interface is AirPlay.

Apple says that, although these approaches provide a convenient mechanism for individuals to share their content with others, privacy concerns continue to be a problem. For example, when you “mirrors” your iPhone to an auxiliary display, the entire user interface displayed on the iPhone is replicated at the auxiliary display and can be seen by others. 

What’s more, when being mirrored, the iPhone continues to receive and display personal data (e.g., text messages), which can be problematic for the user (e.g., when sharing a slideshow presentation with his or her colleagues at work), says Apple. One approach commonly taken by users to reduce privacy exposure involves manually closing applications and disabling notifications prior to broadcasting content to auxiliary displays, but this is a cumbersome and inefficient process. 

However, having a large number of apps on your device can make it difficult for you to cover all potential avenues of privacy exposure. Apple wants to make this process easier.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.