Apple issues AirPort Express firmware update adding support for AirPlay 2

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2018
Apple has quietly released a firmware update to the now-discontinued AirPort Express product line, introducing support for AirPlay 2 to the router ahead of the expected public release of iOS 12 this fall.




The Apple Support site advises "firmware update 7.8 adds AirPlay 2 support to 802.11n AirPort Express base stations." AirPlay 2 is Apple's update to its media streaming protocol, enabling features such as stereo pairing on the HomePod and multi-room audio for compatible devices.

The betas of iOS 12 gave some hope that Apple would add AirPlay 2 to AirPort Express units, with the appearance of the 2012 redesign in the Home app for the first beta, but it could not be added as a HomeKit peripheral. After the second beta, the Home app popped up an alert advising an AirPort Express update was available and needed to be applied, but at the time there wasn't an update available.

To install the firmware update, AirPort Express users have to restart the router via the AirPort Utility, then select the base station to see if the update is downloadable. If an update is available, an Update button is presented, which will command the base station to continue with the installation.

In April, Apple announced it had discontinued the long-running AirPort Wi-Fi router line, with existing online and in-store stock being the last remaining units it would sell. The news followed a year after reports Apple had broken up its AirPort devision, shuffling employees to other areas and projects in an apparent sign the product line was close to ending.

In January, Apple started to sell the Linksys Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System online and instore, an apparent break in Apple's policy to only sell its own routers, and the first third-party router to be sold in its retail outlets.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 63
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,259member
    That’s great news for both our 2 AirPort Expresses
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 63
    Does it apply to the 2008-2012 sold 802.11n Airport Express  (Gen 1)?

    Apple's website is ambiguous:

    https://support.apple.com/kb/DL1975?locale=en_US


    Now, what about adding APFS support to Time Capsules?!

    Also, what about iOS Time Capsule file storage access?!!!!!!
    edited August 2018 Soliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 63
    !!!!!!!!

    but… but… what about planned obsolescence??
    edited August 2018 StrangeDayscornchipsphericargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 63
    Now if only Apple coud update the Airport Utility app for the iPhone X screen real estate :)
    libertyforallwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 63
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,568administrator
    Does it apply to the 2008-2012 sold 802.11n Airport Express  (Gen 1)?

    Apple's website is ambiguous:

    https://support.apple.com/kb/DL1975?locale=en_US


    Now, what about adding APFS support to Time Capsules?!

    Also, what about iOS Time Capsule file storage access?!!!!!!
    It only applies to the 2012 remake, as pictured in the article.
    JanNLSoliracerhomie3argonautcommand_fwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 63
    Does it apply to the 2009-2012 sold 802.11n Airport Express  (Gen 1)?

    Apple's website is ambiguous:

    https://support.apple.com/kb/DL1975?locale=en_US


    Now, what about adding APFS support to Time Capsules?!
    Keep dreaming.

    Jus upgraded my two AEs.  It works!  At this point, the only Airplay 1 device that will be left in my house is an old Denon X2000 receiver that isn't on Denon/Marantz's upgrade list.
    mike54matrix077racerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 63
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 324member
    Does it apply to the 2008-2012 sold 802.11n Airport Express  (Gen 1)?

    Apple's website is ambiguous:

    https://support.apple.com/kb/DL1975?locale=en_US


    Now, what about adding APFS support to Time Capsules?!

    Also, what about iOS Time Capsule file storage access?!!!!!!
    It only applies to the 2012 remake, as pictured in the article.
    That's right, couldn't resist and tried the Gen 1. This firmware stays on 7.6.9 .
    libertyforallwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 63
    This is great!

    Heads off to open Airport Utility ... 

    ... And done. Four of my six Airport Express units throughout the house updated, the two remaining are the previous generation.

    I have not purchased a HomePod yet -- have been waiting to see what would happen with this. But this will now prompt me to put a HomePod (or two) in at least one room as I shuffle things around, maybe two. I can't be alone in this -- Apple will see a bit of an uptick in HomePod sales, I'll guess.

    The big losers today are probably Sonos or whatever, those from whom I might have bought gear to drive the high-quality, built-in speakers in my house (kitchen, baths) and other expensive speakers with Airplay 2 if Apple hadn't done this.
    edited August 2018 mike54argonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 63
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,020member
    It breaks my heart that Apple discontinued their Airport products.  They are by far the best built, most reliable units I've ever owned.  Sure, others like DLink, NetGer, Linksys, etc.. may have more features for tech-savvy people, but their quality is crap, are unstable, and always require a restart.

    What a shame.
    libertyforallcornchipmike54stompycecil444racerhomie3caladanianargonautoseamewilliamlondon
  • Reply 10 of 63
    Lol, there were quite a few commenters poo-pooing the chance of this ever happening when discussed previously.  Good work, Apple!
    lollivercornchipcaladanianargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 63
    JanNL said:
    Does it apply to the 2008-2012 sold 802.11n Airport Express  (Gen 1)?

    Apple's website is ambiguous:

    https://support.apple.com/kb/DL1975?locale=en_US


    Now, what about adding APFS support to Time Capsules?!

    Also, what about iOS Time Capsule file storage access?!!!!!!
    It only applies to the 2012 remake, as pictured in the article.
    That's right, couldn't resist and tried the Gen 1. This firmware stays on 7.6.9 .
    I can confirm on my hardware that the Gen 1 doesn’t get the update and doesn’t appear as an AirPlay 2 target. The latest AirPort express became an AirPlay 2 target after the update and receives the tell-tale circle next to its name in the AirPlay device listing from compatible devices (tested with my iPhone 8).

    i may switch my latest gen AirPort Extreme in my master bedroom upstairs for the just update express in the living room on the main floor to take advantage of the expanded AirPlay options. 
    edited August 2018 libertyforallracerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 63
    Strangely, the Apple article has a Post Date: Dec 12, 2017


    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 63
    sflocal said:
    It breaks my heart that Apple discontinued their Airport products.  They are by far the best built, most reliable units I've ever owned.  Sure, others like DLink, NetGer, Linksys, etc.. may have more features for tech-savvy people, but their quality is crap, are unstable, and always require a restart.

    What a shame.
    This is true.  My airports have been far more reliable than anything else from other vendors in my house.  A Netgear R8000 I have still needs weekly reboots on the current firmware.

    The bigger shame is that Apple literally invented the Wifi base station market using co-developed technology manufactured by Lucent.  For a while, Apple was the only or best base station you could buy for Macs or PCs, period.
    libertyforalldysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 63
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    sflocal said:
    It breaks my heart that Apple discontinued their Airport products.  They are by far the best built, most reliable units I've ever owned.  Sure, others like DLink, NetGer, Linksys, etc.. may have more features for tech-savvy people, but their quality is crap, are unstable, and always require a restart.

    What a shame.
    Apple really should offer their own mesh wireless system. It doesn't matter that there are many competitors in this space, when people go in to buy an Apple solution, they want to buy everything Apple sells. It's just money they're leaving on the table, IMO.
    d_2technocaladanianargonautdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 63
    BrianJBrianJ Posts: 7unconfirmed, member
    sflocal said:
    It breaks my heart that Apple discontinued their Airport products.  They are by far the best built, most reliable units I've ever owned.  Sure, others like DLink, NetGer, Linksys, etc.. may have more features for tech-savvy people, but their quality is crap, are unstable, and always require a restart.

    What a shame.
    Apple really should offer their own mesh wireless system. It doesn't matter that there are many competitors in this space, when people go in to buy an Apple solution, they want to buy everything Apple sells. It's just money they're leaving on the table, IMO.
    There are a lot of things that Apple leaves on the table which allows for others to provide a solution.  Apple likes to focus on the big and flashy things that people replace all the time.  Routers are boring and too commonplace for Apple to get excited about.  They pretty much gave up on them 5 years ago, and it really shows.  There is so much more that could have been done with them that would make for a better home network experience, but again, too boring, so they hit the chopping block.

    StrangeDayswilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 63
    I didn't have to jump through any hoops. I fired up AirPort Utility on my Mac and a bright red 1 appeared on the router's icon. I clicked the icon, the router details opened and there was the Update button. Took all of maybe 3 minutes.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 63
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,309member
    Lol, there were quite a few commenters poo-pooing the chance of this ever happening when discussed previously.  Good work, Apple!
    Hahaha I was thinking the same and then read your comment.  Same thing happened when Apple began offering 4k movies.. some folks here swore they would NEVER upgrade your previously purchased movies to 4k for free if available.. Even though Apple had already done the same thing previously when they started offering HD movies a few years ago. If there was an HD equivalent of a previously purchased SD movie they upgraded it for free.  B)

     
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 63
    NY1822NY1822 Posts: 621member
    my apologies but can someone explain to me what this means...in terms of benefits...im a little ignorant on this topic...does it connect 3rd party speakers to airplay 2? any help would be appreciated 
    edited August 2018 cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 63
    sflocal said:
    DLink, NetGer, Linksys, etc.. 
    I agree that those vendors were awful. The new generation of mesh routers though — Plume, Eero, Google Home — blow them and Apple's offerings out of the water. [edit] Netgear has a new mesh line called Orbi, and Linksys has the Velop series that the article mentions above. No thanks, been burned by both companies too many times.

    I kind of wish Apple would acquire Plume or Eero, but whatevs. There are good options now, and mesh can extend your home network range without cutting the speed in half with every hop.
    edited August 2018 caladanianargonautwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 63

    NY1822 said:
    my apologies but can someone explain to me what this means...in terms of benefits...im a little ignorant on this topic...does it connect 3rd party speakers to airplay 2? any help would be appreciated 
    Yes, that's exactly right. You can hook up any ol' stereo system, and not have to deal with some bullshit distorted all-in-one.
    racerhomie3argonautwatto_cobraspheric
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