Airplay Streaming With VLC on the iPad
By John Lister
AirPlay allows you to play content from your iPad on a television through the AppleTV box. This works well with the default video player on the iPad, but this player works with only a limited range of video formats. If you use the VLC app, you can play a much wider range of formats.
AirPlay is a software system that works with the AppleTV set top box. The box connects to a television through an HDMI cable and then connects wirelessly to your local network. You can then stream video content from any iOS device or Mac computer connected to the same network. On iOS devices such as the iPad, the system works only with the default media apps, or with those independent apps that specifically support AirPlay.
The VLC app for iOS has supported AirPlay since the release of VLC 2.0.1 in July 2013. It is a free app available through the iTunes App Store, meaning you can either download it directly on your iPad or get it through iTunes on your computer and then sync to your iPad. The iOS app is completely separate from the desktop edition of VLC, so it makes no difference whether or not you already have VLC on your computer.
Getting Files on to iPad
The VLC app can play any video files you have already transferred on to your iPad for playback in the default Video app, including iTunes purchases. However, you can also transfer video files to your iPad (for VLC playback only) over Wi-Fi. To do so, make sure your iPad and computer are both connected to the same local network, open the VLC app on the iPad, tap the VLC logo button (similar to a traffic cone), change the "WiFi Upload" button to on, and make a note of the IP address that is displayed. Type this address (including any colon and numbers at the end) into a Web browser on your computer. You'll then see an interface that lets you drag-and-drop files onto the iPad where they'll be accessible by the VLC app. Note that the VLC app can play only files that are on the iPad itself and can't stream from a computer.
Playing on AirPlay
Unlike some AirPlay compatible apps, you cannot simply tap a button within the VLC app itself to enable streaming to your AppleTV. Instead you must start the video playing in the app, then double-tap the home button and swipe to the left. This will bring up the multitasking menu, from which you can enable AirPlay mirroring, meaning your TV displays what is on your iPad screen -- in this case, the video playback.
A professional writer since 1998 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, John Lister ran the press department for the Plain English Campaign until 2005. He then worked as a freelance writer with credits including national newspapers, magazines and online work. He specializes in technology and communications.