Traditionally many user groups were known as “Mac” user groups. With the popularity and growth of iPhones and iPads, many groups are changing to become “Apple” user groups. In the past, meeting presentations could be done by hooking a Mac computer up to a projector or television. For iOS devices this can be a challenge. The Apple Use Group Resource team has put together some tips and strategies to get you up and running, presenting iOS at your user group meetings. We will address hardware needs, Apple technologies, software options and user groups successfully using these technologies. Read on.

This how-to will discuss three solutions to help user groups have a successful iOS meeting presentation. All solutions will require access to either a projector with a VGA/HDMI ports or a television with an HDMI port.

Hardware Solutions

We will focus on two hardware solutions for connecting your iOS device. Both methods require access to cables and hooking direct to the presentation display. Direct connection is a great option and can be the most reliable in meeting your presentation needs. First lets define the two cable hardware standards.

vgahdmiVGA connectors have long been the standard for projectors. If you are presenting on a television, this connector may be labeled “PC” input. VGA is an analog format so may have some backwards compatibility to older displays or presentation devices.

HDMI connectors are a newer standard and are found on flat screen televisions. HDMI is a digital format. Projectors have also become digital so some can support the new HDMI input. HDMI will give you the best quality picture for your presentations.

Apple does provide connectors that will support these needs. For older devices, they do provide a 30-pin to VGA connector as well as a 30-pin to HDMI connector. For the newer iOS devices using the lightning connector, they do provide Lighting to VGA and Lighting Digital AV Adapter (HDMI) as well. Along with these adapters you will need the proper cable that attaches to them as well as the TV. Either a VGA cable or HDMI cable will be needed. On a side note, VGA does not carry audio over the connection port. HDMI does have the ability to carry an audio signal, but it may depend on the device receiving the video signal if it can handle audio as well.cords


So how can an AppleTV help me present my iOS device at a User Group meeting? Simple, Apple has introduced a technology called AirPlay. It is the ability to link video and audio from an iOS device or Mac computer wirelessly to the AppleTV. This option does not limit you on cable length and allows you the freedom to walk around with your iOS device. The AppleTV is an HDMI based device. It has network access via wireless or ethernet connection. For AirPlay to work, both devices need to be on the same network. What if you need to connect your AppleTV to a VGA only projector? A company called Kanex provides an HDMI to VGA adapter (can support audio as well).

Computer Based 3rd Party Software

AirplaySo your group has a Mac computer and a projector. AirPlay is a great technology that is supported not only on iOS devices but also on the Mac platform. Two third-party companies offer software solutions to enable AirPlay reception on your computer. Basically, you are turning your computer into a virtual AppleTV device. What is on your iOS screen, shows up on your computer screen and thus your projector or display. With support for the OS X full screen option you can remove the distraction of the OS X interface and focus on what is on your iOS screen.

Squirrels and AppDynamic provide a Mac software solution. Squirrels provides a Mac application called Reflector. AppDynamic creates a great application called AirServer. Besides projecting what is on your iOS screen onto your computer, both also provide screen recording capabilities of your iOS screen on your computer. Need to display an iPad and iPhone on your screen at once? Both provide mirroring of multiple devices for side-by-side comparison. You also have the ability to password protect the AirPlay technology so others on your network cannot take over your screen.

User Group in Action

media cabinetThe appleJAC User Group in Jefferson City, Missouri, had the know-how of addressing many of the hardware and software topics discussed in this article. The issue they faced was keeping everything organized. So they developed a portable media cabinet. With the dimensions 13”W x 24”H x 11”D, it would allow them to easily transport to and from meetings. So what is in this media cabinet? They have managed to neatly organize a projector, AppleTV, Airport Base Station, sound system with a wireless microphone and a few other gadgets. If you want to read more about this, then a downloadable PDF is available here.

media cabinet design

Have a success story you would like to share about your user group? Send us an email and share your story or provide input.