Kyle Kinkade speaks at MacTech on the power of AirPlay

Mike Schramm
M. Schramm|10.20.12

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Kyle Kinkade speaks at MacTech on the power of AirPlay

Kyle Kinkade, you may remember, is one of the original early developers of Tap Tap Revenge (one of the biggest hits of the App Store's first generation of games). He was last seen working on Bartleby's Book of Buttons, a beautiful and interactive book for the iPad. This week at the MacTech IT and developers' conference here in Los Angeles, Kinkade took the stage to talk about AirPlay, a technology that he says has some major ramifications and consequences for both Apple and the entire interactive entertainment industry going forward. "By 2014," Kinkade said of AirPlay integration, and multiscreen interaction, "this will be a very common thing."

Kinkade began by showing off some examples of AirPlay integration, and how developers had learned to use the service so far. The core function of AirPlay is simply to send a video signal from your Apple device up to a larger screen, either out to a television or to your computer. Apps like Netflix and the TED talks app, for example, are simply kicking out video to the larger screen. But Kinkade also pointed out that AirPlay is being used more and more in other ways as well: Some games are using AirPlay to send a larger signal to then be controlled by the handheld device, and other apps (including Kinkade's own Bartleby book) are actually creating two different experiences, whether you're playing on just the smaller screen, or with the large screen also showing other context and information.

In fact, said Kinkade, lots of AirPlay functionality is actually not just being shown on a bigger TV or a computer screen, but on a full 5.1 home theater system. Developers, he said, shouldn't just think of AirPlay as a fun gimmick to see iPhone graphics on the big screen, but they should start thinking about it as a larger experience, as an entire second app or maybe even as the primary function of all kinds of apps, from games to productivity apps to anything else. Devs should not only think about sound as they design, and "do more than mirror" information on both screens, but they should "consider multiple dual screen paradigms" as they code, realizing that users are going to be appreciating and even expecting functionality like this going forward.

For his own app, Kinkade says he's not yet seeing anywhere near a majority of users investing in AirPlay, but the numbers are growing, from about 5% of users a year ago, to more than 11% at the current time. Kinkade also said that as other "second screen" technologies get more and more popular (like Microsoft's Project Glass functionality, and Nintendo's Wii U game console), AirPlay will have a chance to really lead the industry. "When it's no longer nerdy to have a screen in your hands as you play a game," said Kinkade, then AirPlay will become hugely important.

And finally, Kinkade suggested that Apple was thinking along these lines already. "Apple's taking AirPlay pretty seriously," said Kinkade. "You just don't know it yet." The company has been adding more and more functionality to AirPlay already (including the mirroring function), and Kinkade says that when Apple does reveal its final plans for AirPlay, developers already familiar with how it works and how it can be used will have a distinct advantage. His talk was definitely convincing: AirPlay is already a very fascinating technology, and it's easy to see how Apple, developers, and eventually users will have lots of fun and useful ways to take advantage of it in the future.

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