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The Apple TV plays a range of media, including Amazon Instant TV, YouTube, Netflix, HBO, ESPN, iTunes movies and TV shows, but Apple forgot to add a simple Internet web browser to the mix. Thanks to new iPhone and iPad app AirWeb ($1.99), you can now browse the web full screen as you do on your computer.
AirWeb will probably be most useful to teachers, anyone who delivers presentations, and individuals who want full screen display of the Internet on a TV monitor. While you can use AirPlay to mirror what is on your device or view an iPhoto slideshow, AirWeb provides a fully-optimized interface for browsing full-screen viewing of web pages on an Apple TV.
AirWeb works with Apple TV 2 or 3, and on the following devices that support AirPlay: iPad Mini 1G and up, iPad 2 and up, iPad Air, iPhone 4S and up, iPod Touch 5 G and iPhone 4 (requires a VGA/HDMI cable to connect to the TV).
The AirWeb app walks you through the step-by-step instructions for enabling AirPlay on your Apple TV and iOS advice.
To enable AirPlay on your iOS device, bring up Control Center by swiping your finger from the bottom of the screen. The AirPlay button is on the button is the fourth row.
AirWeb essentially functions as a web browser. Start using it by entering a website URL and then tap on the iPhone icon on the top-right of the app’s homepage. The website should open full screen on your TV (not on the app itself), and from here can view and navigate the page as would on a computer.
Notice in the screenshot above that AirWeb includes handy webpage finger gestures. The grey area on the app’s homepage acts as a touch pad for moving the cursor around and navigating a webpage. Use two fingers to scroll up and down a webpage, or even better press down on a page for about three seconds to enable tilt scrolling, which means you can scroll the page by tilting your iOS device up and down. The scrolling and navigation is not as smooth as on a computer, but it’s very manageable.
Tap the question mark button on the bottom-left to bring up the menu of gestures when you need to review them.
Unfortunately you can’t bookmark websites in AirWeb, but you can tap on the URL window and get a history of the previously downloaded webpages.
You can also tap single screen mode when Apple TV is turned off, which will enable you to view web pages without them being shown on the TV screen. This single screen mode is useful for locating webpages before presenting them on-screen.
While there are a few missing features in AirWeb, such as the lack of browser tabs and bookmarking, most content displays fine using the app, and videos open full screen.
AirWeb delivers functionality that should be installed by default in Apple TV, and while it’s not exactly a ground-breaking app it’s very nice to be able to browse in such a manner. AirWeb is a specialised little app that focuses on one task, and does it well.
Let us know what you think of AirWeb – shouldn’t Apple have included such functionality to begin with?