Video: Everything you need to know about AirPlay 2 in iOS 11.4

Posted:
in iOS
AirPlay 2 will bring new enhancements to streaming audio on the HomePod, Apple TV, iOS devices, and third-party speakers. We went hands-on to see how it works.





AirPlay 2, the oft-delayed successor to Apple's wireless streaming protocol, looks to finally arrive with the public release of iOS 11.4, after being removed from the iOS 11.3 betas. iOS 11.4 and tvOS 11.4 were re-released in developer beta on Monday.

AirPlay 2 makes a lot of significant improvements to streaming audio, most importantly, multi-room support. It also helps with stereo pairing of HomePods, and support for speakers within HomeKit.

Setup

Currently, the only devices that support HomeKit, are Apple TVs running the beta of tvOS 11.4. After updating, it will walk you through adding the Apple TV to one of your HomeKit rooms.




You can change this at any time from either the Home app on your iOS device, or in Settings > AirPlay > Room on the Apple TV.

Playing audio





To cast audio to an AirPlay 2 speaker, it works the same as it always has. You can access it on your iOS device from within Control Center, or any app that includes an AirPlay button.

The biggest difference is AirPlay 2 devices now show with a circle/checkmark to the right, whereas AirPlay 1 devices don't. This is to signify that you can cast to multiple AirPlay 2 speakers at once.

You can also ask Siri to play audio to multiple speakers. Say something along the lines of "Hey, Siri. Play the Killers in the Living room and the Bedroom."




Unfortunately, in the first beta of iOS 11.4, this seems to be broken. Siri is happy to carry out your request, but it doesn't actually do what she says it is doing.

Speaker support

As we outlined at the inset, currently the only supported AirPlay 2 devices are Apple TVs. This will quickly change after the release of AirPlay 2.




The HomePod will gain support for it, as well as a medley of third-party speakers such as the Libratone Zipp.

At WWDC, Apple highlighted several manufacturers that had pledged support to the upcoming streaming protocol.

Current limitations

Aside from Siri's failure, we are also limited when it comes to HomeKit support. Really, you can only play/pause from in the Home app.

In the future, hopefully, Apple adds full support for HomeKit speakers, including the ability to add them to scenes.




You'd be able to set a playlist, or a song, to play when a scene is activated. You could also pair them with other HomeKit devices in those scenes. They could be at a specific time of day with energizing music and warm lights to wake you up in the morning, or a party mix for the weekend turned on with a button press featuring crazy lights and party music.

AirPlay 2 will hopefully be launching in the near future with iOS 11.4 and tvOS 11.4.
patchythepirate

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    TaghkanicTaghkanic Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Confused... Will I be able to Airplay from my laptop to multiple Apple TVs and HomePods? What if I want to AirPlay my laptop or Mac Mini screen to a TV, and have the audio reflected on other devices (HomePod, AppleTV-connected receiver) around my home?
  • Reply 2 of 10
    irelandireland Posts: 17,295member
    Taghkanic said:
    Confused... Will I be able to Airplay from my laptop to multiple Apple TVs and HomePods? What if I want to AirPlay my laptop or Mac Mini screen to a TV, and have the audio reflected on other devices (HomePod, AppleTV-connected receiver) around my home?
    Don’t see why not. Eventually.
  • Reply 3 of 10
    Thanks for the great overview. One function I'm looking for is the ability to plat AppleTV audio over the Homepod --- especially once Airplay2 enables stereo synching. In other words, I want the Homepod to double as an audio system for watching television. When can we expect this ability?
  • Reply 4 of 10
    indiekidukindiekiduk Posts: 240member
    Taghkanic said:
    Confused... Will I be able to Airplay from my laptop to multiple Apple TVs and HomePods? What if I want to AirPlay my laptop or Mac Mini screen to a TV, and have the audio reflected on other devices (HomePod, AppleTV-connected receiver) around my home?
    The Mac has always been able to Airplay to multiple speakers, it's iOS which has always had the fake limit of single speaker.
  • Reply 5 of 10
    Thanks for the great overview. One function I'm looking for is the ability to plat AppleTV audio over the Homepod --- especially once Airplay2 enables stereo synching. In other words, I want the Homepod to double as an audio system for watching television. When can we expect this ability?
    I've been using my HomePod with my AppleTV 4k since day 1.  Works great except for the dropped connection here and there.
  • Reply 6 of 10
    Lab4UsLab4Us Posts: 28member
    Thanks for the great overview. One function I'm looking for is the ability to plat AppleTV audio over the Homepod --- especially once Airplay2 enables stereo synching. In other words, I want the Homepod to double as an audio system for watching television. When can we expect this ability?
    I've been using my HomePod with my AppleTV 4k since day 1.  Works great except for the dropped connection here and there.
    Same here, except I have one on each side of TV (bedroom, using Sonos Playbase and Sub in living room). I generally alternate between the homepods each evening when watching tv and was hoping Airplay 2 beta was going to let me listen to them simultaneously, even if not in stereo.  Volume is low enough they work okay off to the side until that glorious day of HomePod stereo pairing!  Then I read this and see I downloaded tvOS 11.4 beta for no apparent reason since why would I airplay to Apple TV when it’s the source?  Will continue to patiently wait...
    edited April 3
  • Reply 7 of 10
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,759member
    Taghkanic said:
    Confused... Will I be able to Airplay from my laptop to multiple Apple TVs and HomePods? What if I want to AirPlay my laptop or Mac Mini screen to a TV, and have the audio reflected on other devices (HomePod, AppleTV-connected receiver) around my home?
    The Mac has always been able to Airplay to multiple speakers, it's iOS which has always had the fake limit of single speaker.

    Haha. It's not a "fake" limit. The audio subsystem in iOS has always been different than macOS. It was a design decision due to very different use cases of each product. iOS was designed as a single user personal device. Only a single out and single in was needed for its purpose. AirPlay 2 includes a complete rewrite of the iOS audio subsystem to allow multiple outs. (...And I hope they included multiple ins as well?) It is a foundational change to iOS which is why it has taken so long, it's not a trivial update.

    While the Core OS is basically the same across all devices, there are differences in the way the OS interacts with hardware across different classes of devices. For instance, iOS does not support Virtual Memory, so there is a real memory limit, unlike in macOS where there is no such limit because storage (and power efficiency) has never been a major resource concern. The same goes for unrestricted multi-tasking. These are all design decisions - not fake limitations.
    minicoffeeStrangeDays
  • Reply 8 of 10

    I really want the HomePod to roll out to other markets soon. I love listening to music in bed, just before sleeping. I can't wear my AirPods while lying down so I simply use the stock speakers on the iPhone for my fix.

    It would be great to have the HomePod in my bedroom to lull me to sleep.

  • Reply 9 of 10
    JoefonzJoefonz Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    2 questions.

    1. Can you play different sources in different locations?  Play one song from Apple Music in one room and one song from Pandora in another room. They are both Airplay compatible applications and in the video it says you can play from different sources but can you simultaneously play different songs in different locations across multiple locations like Sonos has been doing over a decade?

    2. Mjtomin states that "AirPlay 2 includes a complete rewrite of the iOS audio subsystem to allow multiple outs."  If that is indeed true, why wouldn't an Airport Express serve as an Airplay 2 device?  Airport Express is currently supported in Airplay 1 and can streamed to multiple units at the same time through MAC OS.  The limitation is on IOS as with other Airplay 1 "receivers".   I have multiple Airport Expresses around the house serving as receivers of audio.  

    Thanks for any comments.  I've been scouring the net for any info on this and have found nothing.




  • Reply 10 of 10
    indiekidukindiekiduk Posts: 240member
    Airport expresses are going to get an update to work in the Home app like the HomePod!
    1983
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