Back then smartphones was still a new thing, and HDTVs were much less smart – oh, about 10 years ago – putting what was on your phone’s screen on a TV screen typically involved an adapter dongle, a cable, and a ton of frustration.
Today, improved wireless standards, smart TVs, streaming media apps and devices like Roku boxes have all made it easier. Even the phones have gotten better at it. Of course, there are still some hangers to jump through once in a while, especially if you have older hardware, but there is almost always a way to get streaming video, photos or whatever else is on your phone up on the big screen.
Still a word to the wise: Test your setup when you have time, in a relaxed environment. Do not wait until you have an audience of family members or colleagues gathered and wait impatiently for you to figure out how to make the connection.
Newer setups are probably the simplest
If you have a large screen TV that was manufactured within the last three or four years and your iPhone or Android phone is up to date, it is very likely that streaming will be a simple matter of finding your HDTV device in your phone’s settings and beaming directly. Many newer smart TVs supports either Apple’s AirPlay or Google Chromecast-or both. These streaming standards allow you to send video content to a TV or mirror your phone screen. You may need to enable this feature in your TV’s settings in order for your phone to find the set.
On an iPhone, you can access your screen mirror settings by swiping down from the top right corner of the screen. The icon, which looks like two rectangles on top of each other, shows you which devices nearby are available for streaming. Look for your Airplay-enabled TV in there. In apps that support Airplay such as Apple’s TV app or YouTube, look for the streaming icon (a rectangle with a triangle at the bottom) or the AirPlay icon (circles with a triangle at the bottom) and select the TV.
On Android phones, you can use the Google Home app to select your TV and send video to it, or in apps like YouTube, you can use the Cast button (a rectangle with brilliant lines at the bottom left) to do the same. To mirror your screen to Chromecast-compatible TVs, you can also go directly to Android settings, select Screen, and select Cast screen.
Make sure your TV software is up to date and your phone and TV are on the same Wi-Fi network. Your TV may not appear as a streaming option if its network settings are disabled or if it uses an Ethernet connection and not Wi-Fi.
Important: If you live in an apartment or near other households or businesses, be sure to stream to the right TV, especially if you share a Wi-Fi network. You may end up sending your TV show to the wrong device in someone else’s living room.
How to stream to older TVs and set-top boxes
If you have a TV that is older and does not support standards like AirPlay or Chromecast, it is best to stream to a connected device that works with your TV, such as Apple TV, Amazon Fire products, Google Chromecast hardware devices, or one of the Rokus streaming devices.
Any Apple TV box should be able to do AirPlay, but so do some other devices, such as the Rokus 4K set-top boxes. For functions such as screen mirroring or image sharing on a TV, Roku suggests using his own mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices. Oddly enough, Roku says that Google’s own phones, such as Google Nexus and Google Pixel running OS 6.0 or later, cannot screen mirror to a Roku box.