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An introduction to Apple’S AirPlay 2

AirPlay

AirPlay was initially build to stream audio, video and photos to Apple TV on a wireless basis.  AirPlay was predominantly used to stream audio from iTunes to AirPort Express, which was built on Apple’s ‘AirTunes’ software from 2004. AirPlay replaced Apple’s previous technology called AirTunes, which only allowed the streaming of music, but not the other kinds of data that AirPlay supports.

Though innovation focused on wireless transitions, it was difficult to get a product set up. Those early products also didn’t have the most stable connection, and music would often drop out. To enhance stability, Updates to AirPlay was made and the main focus of the update is on streaming music from your iOS device to more than one product.

What is AirPlay 2?

Apple’s AirPlay 2 is the latest version of the AirPlay protocol introduced in iOS 11 which lets you send audio to multiple AirPlay speakers at a single stroke, from anywhere in iOS. It assembles a multi-room audio system from any compatible speakers, and control it from iOS’s AirPlay controls or inside third-party apps. There’s also a new MusicKit API which engulfed developers to integrate with the full Apple Music service.

AirPlay 2 will offer the ability to stream music wirelessly to, and between, compatible speakers on the same wifi network. This is through the Control Centre on iOS devices, an Apple TV box, or iTunes.

AirPlay 2 Features

The main features introduced in AirPlay 2 includes,

  • Speakers in Home app
  • Multi-room audio and
  • Shared playlists.

AirPlay 2 Features multi room audioInitially, for starters, AirPlay 2 will add support for controlling of speakers via the Home app, which means users will be able to select through which speakers audio is played, along with the volume controls of the individual, for all of those speakers regardless of their location within the home.

Another adding innovation with AirPlay 2, is the ability for multiple users to add songs to one playlist. This “Shared Up Next” feature is available for Apple Music and extends support for third-party apps as well since Apple is providing AirPlay 2 audio API for third-party developers.

Apple products that Support AirPlay 2

Any Apple device that supports iOS 11 will also get AirPlay 2:

iPhone

  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 6S Plus
  • iPhone 6S
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone SE
  • iPhone 5S

iPad

  • 12.9in iPad Pro (first generation)
  • 12.9in iPad Pro (second generation)
  • 9.7in iPad Pro
  • 10.5in iPad Pro
  • iPad (fifth generation)
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad Air
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPad mini 2

iPod touch

  • iPod touch (6th generation)

Apple TV

  • Apple TV 4th Gen

MacBook and MacBook Pro

  • MacBook: Late 2009 or later
  • iMac/iMac Pro: Late 2009 or later
  • MacBook Air: 2010 or later
  • MacBook Pro: 2010 or later
  • Mac mini: 2010 or later
  • Mac Pro: 2010 or later

AirPlay 2 with HomePods

AirPlay 2 will work in harmony with Apple’s own HomePod smart home speaker. Apple Music plays on the HomePod via the cloud, but any other audio if needs to be sent, it has to come over AirPlay 2, from a device running iOS 11, macOS 10.13, or tvOS 11.

It is not just Apple’s speaker which is compatible with AirPlay 2, rather illustrious list of hi-fi companies have pledged their support for this innovation. The companies signed up include:

  • Bang & Olufsen
  • Beats
  • Bluesound
  • Bose
  • Bowers & Wilkins
  • Definitive Technologies
  • Denon
  • Devialet
  • Dynaudio
  • Libratone
  • Marantz
  • McIntosh
  • Naim
  • Sonos – from 2018
  • Polk

Apple AirPlay 2 in HomeKit

AirPlay 2 extends support to HomeKit, which allows HomeKit to communicate to speakers automatically. If you happen to own an Apple TV connected to a speaker setup, it can also act as the central hub to stream music.

AirPlay - Home kit

Sharing audio using macOS

 

AirPlay 2 extends its support to mac OS 10.13 as well. It ensures the transfer of music or podcasts to multiple speakers from your Mac.

Apple AirPlay 2 with Apple TV

Once upgraded to tvOS 11, Apple TV can send audio to speakers around the wide range, rather than just coming from nearby iPhone or iPad. Furthermore, devices like sound bar or speakers, that are connected to the Apple TV would automatically become a de facto AirPlay 2 speaker.

Airplay 2 with Apple TV


Poorvitha,
iOS Development Team,
Mallow Technologies.

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