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Don’t touch that filthy remote! Apple AirPlay arrives at select hotels – here’s how it works

A hand holding up an iPhone playing a yoga tutorial

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

The worst part of traveling isn’t waiting in long security lines at the airport or navigating an unknown city’s public transit. It’s trying to figure out how to use a new hotel’s TV remote. Now you can go remote-free and use your iPhone as a control instead, thanks to a partnership Apple launched Thursday with InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG). 

AirPlay, Apple’s inter-device streaming technology, comes to more than 60 IHG properties in the US, Mexico, and Canada, for a private, secure, and — most importantly — remote-free streaming experience on your hotel room’s TV.

Also: How to stream from your iPhone to your TV using AirPlay

After getting my first look at the feature at the InterContinental New York Times Square, I predict that AirPlay in hotel rooms will be a game changer for frequent business travelers who want to personalize their hotel room stay.

AirPlay connecting to a TV

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

For better or for worse, travel takes us out of our apartment or house and plops us in a hotel room that doesn’t feel like a home: The hotel room’s TV doesn’t have our favorite shows or our watch history loaded onto it already, and we don’t have easy connectivity to a sound system to unwind to our favorite tunes after a long day. 

With IHG’s AirPlay, guests can use their iPhone or iPad camera to scan the “Connect and Stream” QR code on the hotel’s LG TV, which brings them to a Wi-Fi connectivity page where they connect to the room’s network. An AirPlay icon will pop up on the top of the phone or iPad screen. After that, the guest turns on screen mirroring for the connected device, which will load content from their device onto the TV. I tried it out myself, and it was a nearly seamless connection process. 

From there, you can review the photos you’ve taken on your trip, get right back into that show you’re binging, rehearse for that big presentation you flew across the country to give, or play your favorite songs on the TV’s sound system — no remote needed. It could be a business tripper’s best friend to make their hotel room and tech feel more homey during those long stays in foreign cities. 

Also: The best TVs to buy: Expert tested

Streaming shows or music is easy, but one app that works especially well with AirPlay is the Apple Health app. If you want to exercise in your hotel room you can go to the Health app’s Fitness+ tab to follow guided workout or meditation sessions on the hotel TV. And your Apple Watch’s health data rings can be projected onto the corner of the TV as well, in tandem with your phone. Other apps, like Keynote for rehearsing presentations and Photos for reviewing the pictures you took that day, work wonderfully on the TV. 

AirPlay is available in select hotels — including some Holiday Inn, Avid, Candlewood, Crowne Plaza, and InterContinental locations — starting Thursday, with more being added in the coming months. 


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