Set up your Apple TV just by touching it with your iOS 7 device
Huh? Yep, it's for real, thanks to a combination of Bluetooth and Apple's iBeacons technology, which arrived quietly inside iOS 7.
Setting up an Apple TV isn't especially complicated, though it can be a hassle. The combination of an onscreen keyboard and Apple's remote makes for painfully slow input of your Apple ID, Wi-Fi password, and the like.
But if you have a third-gen Apple TV and an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad running iOS 7, you can transfer nearly all the necessary setup information, quickly and wirelessly, just by touching one device to another.
How is that possible? Did Apple borrow technology from Bump? Nope. (In fact,.) This surprising new option comes courtesy of Bluetooth and iBeacon, a feature Apple slipped into iOS 7 without much fanfare.
As described by a newly released Apple support document, the Apple TV setup process goes like this: Fire up the box (for the first time, presumably) and wait for the setup screen. Then, making sure Bluetooth is enabled on your iDevice and that it's connected to the Wi-Fi network, just touch it to the Apple TV and wait until you see setup prompts on the TV and device.
From there it should be easy going. You'll enter your Apple password on your device (much easier thanks to the touch keyboard, and perhaps easier still if you have an iPhone 5S with Touch ID), and then just wait for all the necessary settings (iTunes store credentials, region, language preference, etc.) to get transferred over.
According to Apple, iBeacons are "a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence." This would suggest that the third-gen Apple TV, which was introduced back in January, had such a transmitter built in all along, even though it served no purpose until iOS 7 arrived nine months later. Alternately, according to TechCrunch, it might not be iBeacons at all, but rather a similar capability afforded by Bluetooth Low Energy.
Either way, it's an interesting peek at how Apple devices may communicate in the future. And anything that makes setup simpler is cause for celebration.