Inside iOS 11: AirPlay 2 on existing speakers requires firmware update, support for Apple'...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2017
The upcoming launch of AirPlay 2 comes with a caveat: Old hardware will need a firmware update, at the very least, to work with the new protocol. With Apple said to have ceased development on its router products, it's possible that AirPort Express owners using AirPlay could be left in the dust.




Editor's note: This article was originally published in June following the beta release of iOS 11. It has been updated and republished for the public launch of iOS 11.

Apple indicated when it announced AirPlay 2 earlier this year that third-party hardware can be updated to support the new AirPlay 2 protocol.

That will eventually include the Apple TV, though the current releases of iOS 11 and tvOS 11 do not yet support AirPlay 2.





In the fine print on Apple's own website, the company notes that a firmware update may not be enough for some devices to support AirPlay 2. In those cases, new hardware could be necessary.

Apple is partnering with major speaker companies for new, upcoming AirPlay 2 devices. Support includes the company's own Beats, as well as Bang and Olufsen, Polk, Denon, Bowers and Wilkins, Definitive Technology, Devialet, Naim, and Bluesound.

What that means for current speakers remains a question mark.

In a post to Facebook, Bose indicated it plans to make AirPlay 2 available for "most" of its current lineup of Wi-Fi enabled speakers, including its SoundTouch lineup. B&W, however, said over the summer that it won't add AirPlay 2 to existing wireless speakers.

In a statement to AppleInsider this summer, Marshall said the company plans to "likely start working on a firmware update" once AirPlay 2 information is released to manufacturers.

Finally, Libratone said on Twitter on Wednesday that they are still waiting on AirPlay 2 code from Apple. The company expects to issue firmware updates "shortly after" Apple provides.




A switch to AirPlay 2 in iOS 11 does not mean the end of support for legacy AirPlay, however. While regular AirPlay devices cannot be added as HomeKit accessories, they'll still work as previously, with an iOS device capable of streaming to one AirPlay speaker at a time.

AirPlay 2 also supports multi-speaker out. Legacy AirPlay speakers support this feature from a Mac, but not from iOS devices.

While the Apple TV will get an AirPlay 2 update, it is unclear whether Apple plans to update its AirPort products to add support for the streaming protocol.

But with multiple reports suggesting that Apple is exiting the Wi-Fi router business, it's possible that the legacy AirPort Express may not receive the necessary firmware update for AirPlay 2. Instead, Apple could use the opportunity to push users to adopt its new $349 HomePod speaker, set to launch this December.

Of course, the HomePod is designed as an all-in-one high-fidelity speaker solution, including beam forming microphones for Siri input. The advantage of the AirPort Express, priced at $99 new, is that it boasts its own digital-to-analog converter, along with a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, allowing users to plug in their own speakers and configure AirPlay to their liking.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    Updating it would be problematic.. as new Airport Utility does not support them, and old Airport Utility does not run on newer OS's.
  • Reply 2 of 44
    The HomePod has too much horsepower to simply be a speaker/home personal assistant.  To work it must be installed throughout the home with larger homes and spaces requiring more than one.  Each one needs to be powered. It depends on a steady wifi signal. It is pretty clear that the HomePod will or should be a mesh wifi router network as well.  With that said, AirPort routers and Time Capsules will most likely be updated ahead of iOS 11s release.
  • Reply 3 of 44
    pbruttopbrutto Posts: 28member
    The HomePod has too much horsepower to simply be a speaker/home personal assistant.  To work it must be installed throughout the home with larger homes and spaces requiring more than one.  Each one needs to be powered. It depends on a steady wifi signal. It is pretty clear that the HomePod will or should be a mesh wifi router network as well.  With that said, AirPort routers and Time Capsules will most likely be updated ahead of iOS 11s release.
    Not only has their been no indication of a router update but their have been multiple stories saying Apple is completely out of the router business now going back months. So, why do you think they may be updated?
    superkloton
  • Reply 4 of 44
    SendMcjakSendMcjak Posts: 66unconfirmed, member
    For the love of all that is Holy, do we know if Siri will support something like this?

    "Hey Siri, play Imagine Dragons on my {{ AirPlay device name }}"

    Apple only said, "Siri support", which is highly unclear.
    edited June 2017 williamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 44
    morrismorris Posts: 25member
    I wonder if my AppleTV3 will get an update. Somehow I fear it won't...  :'(
  • Reply 6 of 44
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    SendMcjak said:
    For the love of all that is Holy, do we know if Siri will support something like this?

    "Hey Siri, play Imagine Dragons on my {{ AirPlay device name }}"

    Apple only said, "Siri support", which is highly unclear.
    That's exactly how it will work, because the speakers will be named through HomeKit.
    patchythepiratewatto_cobrawilliamlondonpscooter63racerhomie3
  • Reply 7 of 44
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 508member
    pbrutto said:
    The HomePod has too much horsepower to simply be a speaker/home personal assistant.  To work it must be installed throughout the home with larger homes and spaces requiring more than one.  Each one needs to be powered. It depends on a steady wifi signal. It is pretty clear that the HomePod will or should be a mesh wifi router network as well.  With that said, AirPort routers and Time Capsules will most likely be updated ahead of iOS 11s release.
    Not only has their been no indication of a router update but their have been multiple stories saying Apple is completely out of the router business now going back months. So, why do you think they may be updated?
    Indeed there have been lots of such stories, and then last December Apple issued a firmware update for the second time in 2016 for various Airport devices, including older Airport Express. So if it's possible to update existing devices to Airplay 2, it seems fairly likely they'll do it.

    Also, while the Homepod may end up being a brilliant sounding device, I have doubts that Apple would imagine that customers with Airport devices hooked up to larger home audio systems would be happy using a Homepod instead. It's a different application.

    P.S. Despite rumors from around a year ago that Airport devices weren't just no longer supported by a development team, but that they were actually being discontinued and rapidly becoming unavailable, I will note that they are still very much available and in-stock in your local Apple Store.
    edited June 2017 watto_cobraalphafoxpmb01pscooter63argonaut
  • Reply 8 of 44
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    Updating it would be problematic.. as new Airport Utility does not support them, and old Airport Utility does not run on newer OS's.
    Both AirPort Express that Apple continues to sell (the Apple TV "puck" shape) and the previous-generation wall-plug model work perfectly fine with AirPort Utility. The only model that requires the old AirPort Utility 5.6 is the first-generation AirPort Express, which Apple has not sold since 2008. If you bought an AirPort Express in the last 9 years, and it has 802.11n, Apple continues to support it (for now) on both iOS and macOS.


    edited June 2017 watto_cobrajbishop1039roundaboutnowsphericalphafoxpscooter63magman1979
  • Reply 9 of 44
    This affects me -- I've got two 2008 and three 2012 Expresses all just for audio, and I'm not expecting it to work. Basically each Airplay 2 device will need to have a little computer in it, and I don't think Airport Express has that. They are just routers. A Firmware update won't change that. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

    I do have a couple of old Apple TV 3s around here somewhere. I'm guessing those will work (as replacements for Airport Express audio) with a firmware update...
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 10 of 44
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 508member

    Updating it would be problematic.. as new Airport Utility does not support them, and old Airport Utility does not run on newer OS's.
    What are you talking about? I have Airport utility running on an iPhone and on a MacBook pro, both running under current OS's and both with full function connecting to Airport devices. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 44
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    This affects me -- I've got two 2008 and three 2012 Expresses all just for audio, and I'm not expecting it to work. Basically each Airplay 2 device will need to have a little computer in it, and I don't think Airport Express has that. They are just routers. A Firmware update won't change that. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

    I do have a couple of old Apple TV 3s around here somewhere. I'm guessing those will work with a firmware update...
    Bose plans to update "most" of their Wi-Fi speakers for AirPlay 2, and I'm guessing they don't have "little computers" in them. They're little more than just speakers.
    watto_cobraalphafox
  • Reply 12 of 44
    pepe779pepe779 Posts: 84member
    This has been, at least for me personally, one of the most disappointing and irrational decisions Apple has made in recent years. They basically ripped the heart out of their own ecosystem (from a "household setup" perspective) and instead decided to rely on 3rd party solutions. Needless to say, I still wasn't able to find a truly solid replacement for their AirPoirt routers (from the overall functionality and ecosystem integration point of view). Then again, my last gen AirPort Extreme has died twice (each time the same design/manufacturing problem, each time after roughly 1 year), so I'm also not going to invest in that model again. The AirPoirt Express has a very weak signal coverage, so unfortunately even the existing AirPort solutions no longer work for me. Apple not only abandoned their own product line in this case, they have also abandoned their own customers without providing them with any other solid options.
    williamlondonbrucemc
  • Reply 13 of 44
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,642member

    The question I have, if you update your iOS devices to 11 and Mac to High Sierra does that mean they are only Airplay 2 compatible. They do will no longer support Airplay 1 devices. If does, this means I not updating since I am not going to replace everything I currently have which only support Airplay and I know the manufacturers are not going to updated their firmware.

    I know Apple has no problem leaving old tech in the past, but they usually provide a bridge solution for a period of time. I do not see a reason why they can not support Airplay 1 and 2 devices at the same time and not support new Airplay 2 features on the older devices.

    I would like to believe Apple will get lots of flack about this, but I think people will either not upgrade and if they do and find out their old stuff no longer works they will just get new stuff. Since Apple has condition people to do this. You might want to begin selling your old Airplay stuff now before everyone figures out it is worthless going forward.

    edited June 2017 williamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 44
    @AppleZulu @nhughes : I have several of the older Airport Express units (and one N version).  I cannot update older ones without AU 5.6.. which d/n run on newer Mac OS versions.  I'm not sure why current Airport Express cannot work with older units.  Obviously because Apple chose not to support them, but rather why would Apple choose not to support older Airport units with current utility.  I am not aware of any physical limitations.
  • Reply 15 of 44
    ignominiignomini Posts: 69member
    Still using my 802.n Expresses to receive music all over the house from Airfoil. Such a joy to be off the "always more to spend" bandwagon. Some folks get rich by not spending money. AirPlay has always kinda sucked anyway.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 44
    maestro64 said:

    The question I have, if you update your iOS devices to 11 and Mac to High Sierra does that mean they are only Airplay 2 compatible. They do will no longer support Airplay 1 devices. If does, this means I not updating since I am not going to replace everything I currently have which only support Airplay and I know the manufacturers are not going to updated their firmware.

    I know Apple has no problem leaving old tech in the past, but they usually provide a bridge solution for a period of time. I do not see a reason why they can not support Airplay 1 and 2 devices at the same time and not support new Airplay 2 features on the older devices.

    I would like to believe Apple will get lots of flack about this, but I think people will either not upgrade and if they do and find out their old stuff no longer works they will just get new stuff. Since Apple has condition people to do this. You might want to begin selling your old Airplay stuff now before everyone figures out it is worthless going forward.

    Neil should probably answer this, but I seem to remember reading this morning that it does not affect Airplay 1. I'm not 100% sure what will happen to the ability to play the same music on multiple networked Airplay 1 devices via iTunes on macOS, but the ability to use your phone to play music on a single Airplay 1 device should remain.
  • Reply 17 of 44
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,433member
    Obsoleting products is nothing new to Apple. Consumer expectations and company expectations for hardware are often very much different. I suspect Apple internal designs consumer devices for the 3 year time frame. Consumers subjectively expect much longer. I was thirlled to head High Sierra will run on any Sierra mac. Yay for my late 2009 iMac!

    Seems to me that Apple's apparent decision to not make home wifi network products is short sighted. But it is possible that these products have a lot of competition, have low profitability, and there is the risk that the market is easily saturated. Apple can't really justify them on their standalone economics.

    It is also possible they feel the same way about displays.

    I like Apple's airports, and use them exclusively. But I've not upgraded to -ac ones simply because I don't need to. 
  • Reply 18 of 44
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    maestro64 said:

    The question I have, if you update your iOS devices to 11 and Mac to High Sierra does that mean they are only Airplay 2 compatible. They do will no longer support Airplay 1 devices. If does, this means I not updating since I am not going to replace everything I currently have which only support Airplay and I know the manufacturers are not going to updated their firmware.

    I know Apple has no problem leaving old tech in the past, but they usually provide a bridge solution for a period of time. I do not see a reason why they can not support Airplay 1 and 2 devices at the same time and not support new Airplay 2 features on the older devices.

    I would like to believe Apple will get lots of flack about this, but I think people will either not upgrade and if they do and find out their old stuff no longer works they will just get new stuff. Since Apple has condition people to do this. You might want to begin selling your old Airplay stuff now before everyone figures out it is worthless going forward.

    It's in the article:

    "A switch to AirPlay 2 in iOS 11 does not mean the end of support for legacy AirPlay, however. While regular AirPlay devices cannot be added as HomeKit accessories, they'll still work as previously, with an iOS device capable of streaming to one AirPlay speaker at a time."
    magman1979
  • Reply 19 of 44
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 750editor
    eightzero said:

    It is also possible they feel the same way about displays.

    Apple said in April they will return to making their own pro displays. I think the LG 5K interference/shielding debacle proved they can't really hand that responsibility over to a third party.

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/17/04/04/all-new-mac-pro-with-modular-design-apple-branded-pro-displays-coming-in-2018
    magman1979
  • Reply 20 of 44
    nhughes said:
    This affects me -- I've got two 2008 and three 2012 Expresses all just for audio, and I'm not expecting it to work. Basically each Airplay 2 device will need to have a little computer in it, and I don't think Airport Express has that. They are just routers. A Firmware update won't change that. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.

    I do have a couple of old Apple TV 3s around here somewhere. I'm guessing those will work with a firmware update...
    Bose plans to update "most" of their Wi-Fi speakers for AirPlay 2, and I'm guessing they don't have "little computers" in them. They're little more than just speakers.
    Hmm, maybe it's more about how the Wi-Fi processor is integrated with the audio DAC. If Bose was smart enough to future-proof then Apple probably did so as well. Anyhow, I'm using the power of negative thinking here -- if I convince myself they won't work, then since I'm always wrong about everything I'll be okay.
    edited June 2017
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