Apple iTV could mirror your Mac

Apple has shown Pocket-lint the potential of Apple iTV, thanks to a sneak look of at new developer preview of OS X Mountain Lion.

One of the many new features of the latest operating system is AirPlay Mirroring, which will work in a similar way to AirPlay in iOS, allowing Mountain Lion users to send what’s on their Mac to an HDTV wirelessly, using Apple TV.

They will be able share anything on their computer screen instantly on the television - be it an application, video, games, the web, or just the desktop - and in the process make their television a "Smart TV" just by adding a £99 Apple TV box.

At the moment, Apple says the new feature will just mirror what is on your computer screen on your television, but it has bigger plans, including updating iTunes to present an immersive full-screen AirPlay experience on your HDTV automatically when you play a movie or TV show, blacking out the screen on your desktop. 

AirPlay Mirroring sends a 720p video stream with audio to your Apple TV, as well as automatically scaling the contents of your Mac display to fit on the TV (you can choose to set the display resolution of your Mac to match your Apple TV for a sharper image) and a demo of the new feature in action showed it to work very well indeed. Pocket-lint was demoed a Vimeo video being streamed from the web to our desktop and then instantly streamed to the TV via Apple TV all in real-time with zero lag all via a standard Wi-Fi connection.

Although Apple has yet to confirm officially that it is working on a dedicated TV model - currently dubbed iTV - rumours circulating on the interwebs suggest otherwise.

The new feature in the latest OS, due out in the summer, could show us how Apple will utilise its Mac range, be it laptops or desktops, to power its "Smart TVs" in the future, ditching the need for a dedicated set-top box like the Apple TV and instead allowing people to connect their computer instantly to benefit from the bigger screen.

The new feature also opens up the possibility of treating the Mac as a games console. Users could theoretically add a wireless controller and then use their Mac as the console, beaming the game to the TV.

When the same feature was added to the iPad, the developers behind Reckless Racing used AirPlay Mirroring to use the television screen for the gameplay and the iPad for other gaming data such as the games' map. Although Apple has confirmed to Pocket-lint that the same isn't currently possible in Mountain Lion, it is not hard to imagine that it could be added in the future, perhaps finally finding a reason to use Apple's Spaces feature in the OS, in the process. 

The new AirPlay Mirroring feature, which Apple tells Pocket-lint uses an encryption to send what’s on your Mac to your Apple TV securely, will work only on Mac computers using second-generation Intel Core processors.

The new feature is available in the latest version of Apple OS X Mountain Lion. Apple has told Pocket-lint that the new features and new operating system, Mountain Lion, will be out in the summer.

Developers who want to get started with the new features, can do so via the Apple OS X Mountain Lion developer preview out on Thursday 16 February. 

- For more news on the latest from OS X Mountain Lion check out our dedicated Mac OS X homepage.