Sorry, AirPlay — I think the iPhone 15 just stole your thunder.
When Apple announced iOS 17 (which is out today) back in June at WWDC, it revealed a new AirPlay feature that promised to fix the completely broken hotel TV experience. If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel, you’ve likely given up trying to get your own content on the television and just accepted going through the guide, eventually rewatching episodes of The Office on Comedy Central. It’s a fate most of us have had to accept — even in the year 2023.
AirPlay can’t solve this problem fast enough
Well, Apple thinks it can fix this inherently crappy experience with AirPlay. The company says that, with iOS 17, supported televisions in hotels will now let you AirPlay content from your Apple device directly to the TV. According to the press release from back in June, the first hotels will start to support this feature by the end of the year.
Sharing content using AirPlay is even easier with on-device intelligence now learning a user’s preferences. AirPlay will also work with supported televisions in hotels, allowing users to easily enjoy their favorite content on the TV when traveling. Built with a foundation of privacy and security, this capability will be available before the end of the year in select hotels, starting with brands from IHG Hotels & Resorts.
While I would love to live in this future where I check into my hotel room and throw a movie onto my TV using AirPlay, I have a feeling that Tesla Roadster might show up before this (that’s a really long timeline, just FYI). The entire problem with this plan is that most hotel televisions are old, man. Only relatively new TVs support AirPlay, and even new models shipping today could be missing the feature.
I doubt that Motel 6 is going to replace all of their televisions to support AirPlay anytime soon, so while some more premium hotel brands might embrace this future, most people aren’t going to have this option for years to come. That’s where the iPhone 15 comes swooping in to save the day.
USB-C to the rescue
While we await this beautiful AirPlay future, the iPhone 15 might be the solution to the crappy hotel TV experience in the interim. In a support document, Apple has revealed that the USB-C port on the new iPhone enables video and audio options that previously did not exist for iPhones with a Lightning port.
According to the document, the USB-C port on the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models will allow users to connect their phone to a television and output 4K resolution at 60Hz with support for HDR10 or Dolby Vision (with the appropriate adapter or cable, of course).
You can connect your iPhone to an HDMI display or TV with a USB-C to HDMI adapter or cable. Adapters and cables that support HDMI 2.0 can output video from your iPhone at 4K resolution and 60Hz.
The Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter is compatible with iPhone. This adapter can output video from iPhone at up to 4K resolution and 60Hz,1 including content in HDR10 or Dolby Vision if your display or TV supports HDR.
That is a huge upgrade from the previous experience with the Lightning port, which could only send video out in 1080p. In a world where most hotels have at least upgraded to larger 4K TVs, we can finally get the full resolution sent out from our iPhone. And, since almost all new 4K TVs support 60Hz and some form of HDR, you’ll be hard-pressed not to get that benefit from a lot of TVs in more premium hotels.
While I’d love it if AirPlay took over hotels immediately, I think the iPhone 15 and its USB-C port is the hero that will actually swoop in to save our crappy TV experience on our vacations. Instead of needing to roll the dice on what your options will be, there is one thing that almost every hotel TV has: an HDMI port. So, as long as you bring along a compatible cable or adapter, you can just download some movies to your iPhone and hook it up to your hotel room TV directly. Crappy entertainment options: Solved.
Of course, you’ll need to have some level of commitment to use this workaround, but a relatively simple and easy workaround it is. Most people, of course, will continue to accept their fate of the guide and reruns of The Office. Don’t worry, Comedy Central, you’re safe…for now.