AirPlay 2 might still be a possibility for Apple's AirPort Express in iOS 12

Posted:
in iPhone
The second iOS 12 beta has gone beyond just spotting the AirPort Express in the Home app, adding more weight to speculation that the discontinued device will be an AirPlay 2 target in the future.

AirPort Express


AppleInsider was able to verify the appearance of the 2012 redesign of the AirPort Express in the Home app in the first iOS 12 beta. However, when tapped, the device was not added as a HomeKit peripheral -- but visibly failed unlike the first time around.

After the second beta, the Home app pops up an alert that an AirPort Express update is available and needs to be applied. However, no update is available, and the app fails in the same manner as the first iOS 12 beta Home app did.




The last update to the AirPort express was in December 2017, for the KRACK exploits from earlier in the year. AirPlay 2 wasn't in testing at the time, with the AirPort patch happening well after the first round of testing of the technology, and before the abortive second round with the iOS 11.3 betas prior to its removal very near the end of the cycle. The update prior to the KRACK fix to the AirPort Express was delivered in December 2016.

This is now the third time that the AirPort Express has appeared as a HomeKit accessory and potential future AirPlay 2 target, and done nothing when selected. It was pulled about two weeks after the first iOS 11.4 beta.




Since that first appearance, Apple has killed off the AirPort line in its entirety.

The refinement of the process in iOS 12 is the best sign so far that the peripheral will be added as an AirPlay 2 compatible bridge for wired speakers. However, support is far from guaranteed and may still be stripped out or repurposed for an as-yet unknown future device from the company.

Once again, other AirPlay-compatible devices were tested after the re-appearance, with none appearing in the Home application.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    jdgazjdgaz Posts: 385member
    It would be sweet if this were to come to pass.
    olsaylkargonautzroger73escargotwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    hagarhagar Posts: 120member
    Just let it go already. This is never going to happen. Even if they did continue selling it, they wouldn't bother. It doesn't make any sense for them developing firmware for a legacy device. Apple Insider should know better instead of writing such clickbait about something that is obviously a beta glitch.
    edited June 2018 gutengelSendMcjak
  • Reply 3 of 22
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 531member
    A lot of folks still use Apple's Airport devices (including myself) and it would be entirely appropriate for Apple to continue to service that equipment for several years beyond its discontinuation.  Five years is typical in the industry, so I expect to see continued updates for Airport in the future...
    aylkargonautwatto_cobraivanh
  • Reply 4 of 22
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 868member
    hagar said:
    Apple Insider should know better instead of writing such clickbait about something that is obviously a beta glitch.
    But… that's their whole business model!

    Seriously though, it makes sense to support the Airport Express for Airplay 2. It's a good building block to integrate other components until somebody else comes out with a similar Airplay hub. (Other than the ~$1K Bang & Olufsen)
    aylkargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,348administrator
    hagar said:
    Just let it go already. This is never going to happen. Even if they did continue selling it, they wouldn't bother. It doesn't make any sense for them developing firmware for a legacy device. Apple Insider should know better instead of writing such clickbait about something that is obviously a beta glitch.
    Did you even read the article?
    aylkargonautnhughesfastasleeproundaboutnowescargotelijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,504member
    hagar said:
    Just let it go already. This is never going to happen. Even if they did continue selling it, they wouldn't bother. It doesn't make any sense for them developing firmware for a legacy device. Apple Insider should know better instead of writing such clickbait about something that is obviously a beta glitch.

    Well the build up of evidence points to the contrary. It seems with each new release they've gotten closer and closer to supporting them. And from what this article shows, we're just one step from making that happen. It would be in Apple's best interest to support these devices to help build up the Airplay 2 platform. If the hardware can support it, there's no reason not to update them; Apple no longer sells WiFi routers, so there's no incentive to get users to upgrade to a newer model.

    On a personal note, I hope they do this. I have one of the newer models and two really old models that are not compatible with macOS or iOS anymore. (I have to boot into a Snow Leopard VM to get access to their settings!) I would gladly buy two more newer models off eBay to replace them if AirPlay 2 was supported.
    escargotwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 22
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,862member
    emoeller said:
    A lot of folks still use Apple's Airport devices (including myself) and it would be entirely appropriate for Apple to continue to service that equipment for several years beyond its discontinuation.  Five years is typical in the industry, so I expect to see continued updates for Airport in the future...
    Feature updates, or security updates? I’m not aware of an industry standard to provide feature updates to discontinued products for five years. Please clarify. 
  • Reply 8 of 22
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 568member
    I don't get it why they continue selling Airport Express, but axed TimeCapsule – which was a wonderful device.
    watto_cobraivanh
  • Reply 9 of 22
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 868member
    macapfel said:
    I don't get it why they continue selling Airport Express, but axed TimeCapsule – which was a wonderful device.
    Both have been discontinued - they're just selling off remaining stock.

    Wi-Fi technology is changing very quickly these days: 802.11AX is starting to appear, mesh architectures are appearing on many new devices (with a standard yet to be defined). Apple may simply have decided to back out of a market that isn't really settled.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 782member
    Even though Apple no longer sells the AirPort Express, it may be in their best interest to add AirPlay 2 support to this "legacy" device to help keep people in the Apple ecosystem.

    I've been using an AirPort Express connected to an amplifier to power a pair of ceiling-mounted speakers on my patio for years and have been warming up to the advantages of AirPlay 2. Adding this functionality to the AirPort Express may prevent me and others from defecting the Apple brand.

    On the other hand, if I were to buy a non-Apple solution, Apple still gets a licensing fee from the other manufacturer for the use of AirPlay 2 technology so adding AirPlay 2 to existinging AirPort Express devices may not have any significant benefit at all.

    I wonder how many people actually use an AirPort Express as an audio target? I'm the only one in my family and circle of friends to have ever done this. Everyone else I know either does without or has a different solution for multi-room audio.

    Okay, so now I've talked myself out of any hope of the AE every supporting AP2. :)
    raoulduke42watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    zroger73 said:
    Even though Apple no longer sells the AirPort Express, it may be in their best interest to add AirPlay 2 support to this "legacy" device to help keep people in the Apple ecosystem.

    I've been using an AirPort Express connected to an amplifier to power a pair of ceiling-mounted speakers on my patio for years and have been warming up to the advantages of AirPlay 2. Adding this functionality to the AirPort Express may prevent me and others from defecting the Apple brand.

    On the other hand, if I were to buy a non-Apple solution, Apple still gets a licensing fee from the other manufacturer for the use of AirPlay 2 technology so adding AirPlay 2 to existinging AirPort Express devices may not have any significant benefit at all.

    I wonder how many people actually use an AirPort Express as an audio target? I'm the only one in my family and circle of friends to have ever done this. Everyone else I know either does without or has a different solution for multi-room audio.

    Okay, so now I've talked myself out of any hope of the AE every supporting AP2. :)
    I have a couple of the old single-ethernet port Expresses- one of which, like yours, requires 10.6 to configure, and also the analog portion of it's audio out port is kaput, but the optical still works- so I've got that and another single port Express hooked up to two different stereos and have been enjoying multi-audio room (from my Macs) for over a decade now. I've also got one of the dual-ethernet port Expresses that so far has just been used for travel purposes (shared my iPhone internet connection to three other devices via a MacBook Air and that Express recently when then hotel wifi was crap)... but I'd totally replace my one-port Express on the back deck with the dual if Airplay 2 is supported... but yes, seems unlikely. Hopefully someone makes an Airplay 2 audio whatzit (that's not a full receiver) in the future if Apple really is going to give up on their old hardware.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    Flat out: Not happening.

    You assume Apple is doing something to "add" the AirPort Express to the Home app because that fits your narrative. Far more likely they are simply not doing something to exclude it properly. It likely shows up there for other reasons and needs to be filtered in the final product.
  • Reply 13 of 22
    hagar said:
    Just let it go already. This is never going to happen. Even if they did continue selling it, they wouldn't bother. It doesn't make any sense for them developing firmware for a legacy device. Apple Insider should know better instead of writing such clickbait about something that is obviously a beta glitch.
    Having a prompt that specifically mentions an update for an Airport Express more or less contradicts your assertion. AE was present in iOS 11.4 Beta 1 and was removed in Beta 2. If the AE wasn't going to be present in Homekit / receive Airplay 2 support, it would have likely not appeared in iOS 12 Beta 2 as a Homekit device, let alone having a prompt mentioning that it needs an update. It looks like we're getting our Chromecast Audio - esque / Airplay 2 bridge folks!
    elijahg
  • Reply 14 of 22
    escargotescargot Posts: 19member
    I've also got one of the dual-ethernet port Expresses that so far has just been used for travel purposes (shared my iPhone internet connection to three other devices via a MacBook Air and that Express recently when then hotel wifi was crap)... but I'd totally replace my one-port Express on the back deck with the dual if Airplay 2 is supported... but yes, seems unlikely. Hopefully someone makes an Airplay 2 audio whatzit (that's not a full receiver) in the future if Apple really is going to give up on their old hardware.
    I don't really understand this use case.  Wouldn't it be much easier to just share the iphone internet connection directly from the iphone to these three devices, rather than having to use a macbook air and an airport express all to replicate the same functionality?  What am I missing?
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 22
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,421member
    If anything, this new wrinkle in the AirPlay 2 saga suggests to me that Apple may be rethinking its decision to opt out of the home networking market. The possibility of new Apple networking gear that builds on the already super-secure legacy Airport line would be most welcome, and an easy, profitable line catering to security/privacy-aware buyers (who also enjoy the no-hassle setup/maintenance). Probably a pipe dream, but AirPlay 2 and likely future products/services makes it a very feasible option.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    mike54mike54 Posts: 488member
    I wish Apple would get back into routers and even make worldwide compatible modem/routers. Even if others don't, I consider it a very important part and gateway to Apple ecosystem. Unfortunately they probably let all engineering talent in that area go.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    payecopayeco Posts: 479member
    hagar said:
    Just let it go already. This is never going to happen. Even if they did continue selling it, they wouldn't bother. It doesn't make any sense for them developing firmware for a legacy device. Apple Insider should know better instead of writing such clickbait about something that is obviously a beta glitch.
    Why would the language in the pop up been written if this wasn’t something they were considering doing?
  • Reply 18 of 22

    Mjtomlin said:
    "I have one of the newer models and two really old models that are not compatible with macOS or iOS anymore. (I have to boot into a Snow Leopard VM to get access to their settings!)"

    I used to do the same (boot to SL to access AU 5.6.1) Then I found this nifty script that allows me to do it in High Sierra: https://zcs.zyniker.org/airport-utility-v5-6-1/
    Detailed instructions under Troubleshooting > AppTranslocation Error under MacOS 10.12

    I have one each of the 3 models g/n/n dual (latest) and all 3 work great, sound is in sync in 3 rooms. Love 'em! Will continue using indefinitely with or without AP2. The oldest one (g) has greater power output through the USB port, which helps because I have a cheap set of USB powered speakers on it. The (n) 1st gen can't supply enough USB power, so the (g) still earns it's keep.

    I've seen Airport Express in the apple.com refurbished store recently, but they sell out fast.  $50.
    edited June 2018
  • Reply 19 of 22
    tokyojimutokyojimu Posts: 495member
    zroger73 said:
    I wonder how many people actually use an AirPort Express as an audio target? I'm the only one in my family and circle of friends to have ever done this.
    It seems pretty common to me. I have three in my place (living room audio, bedroom audio, and phone system music-on-hold). My mom’s friends who are in their 80s have one attached to their B&O system. My dad has one (OK, I installed that one). 
    cornchip
  • Reply 20 of 22
    ivanhivanh Posts: 597member
    tokyojimu said:
    zroger73 said:
    I wonder how many people actually use an AirPort Express as an audio target? I'm the only one in my family and circle of friends to have ever done this.
    It seems pretty common to me. I have three in my place (living room audio, bedroom audio, and phone system music-on-hold). My mom’s friends who are in their 80s have one attached to their B&O system. My dad has one (OK, I installed that one). 
    You need to be imaginative and creative to use Airport Express. I have 6 of them personally. And extended beyond multi-room, AE is the only product in the market allowing multi-storey applications with freedom of choice to plug in to the AUX ports of the world of Hi-Fi. It’s a waste if AE is not revived!
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