Apple's AirPort base stations are gone, and we wish they weren't

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Comments

  • Reply 61 of 79
    It is funny how many people I have known who didn’t even know that their cable box/phone box had wifi built in and that it was more than adequate.
  • Reply 62 of 79
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,840member
    Routers generally have become really good. It’s a device that once setup you generally forget about. I recommended Apple’s routers to my parents for long because they were easier to setup and maintain, but the last few years other brands made their products easier and better as well.
    I think pretty much, this.

    I always ran my own router (w/ DD-WRT or Tomato) up until our most recent move where I decided to give the telco's included router a try (I previously always made them put their router in bridge-mode and turn the WiFi off). It has been rock solid, super-fast, and easy to setup. It was hard for me to justify the additional cost.

    I suppose there could be privacy concerns (though I usually run a VPN when doing anything for clients or sensitive). I set the DNS of their router to Cloud Flare's new DNS, which took care of most of the issues I've had with ISPs routers (ad insertion, crazy redirection, etc.).

    I think the stock thing everyone now has included with their Internet service just got good enough.
  • Reply 63 of 79
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,068member
    vmarks said:
    jdw said:
    In 2017 I purchased a TP-Link WIFI Archer C7 from Amazon because it was recommended by Macworld magazine (I'm a subscriber).  After some hellish setup, I got it to work, but Netflix wasn't working...
    That's interesting - C7 was a reasonably good router at the time. Its processor is a little slow today, but for the time, it was really quite good, and better than ones that were newer than it for a few good years. I've had one and run Netflix without issues, so I have to think there must have been something unique about your ISP and DNS. That replacing it with an Airport solved the problem is interesting.
    I live in Japan and actually purchased the Archer  C7 from Amazon Japan. The firmware may have been different from the same product sold in markets outside Japan. In any case, one really cannot compare the setup “ease” of the Archer C7 versus Apple’s routers. Setup for Apple’s  routers is so easy that even your grandmother could do it by herself.  To me, that simplicity and ease of use is more valuable than performance and makes me justify the higher price of Apple routers. 

    By the way, I actually had a previous generation Airport which worked fine in my home, but I bought the newest white tower Airport to get the latest “AC” wireless technologies that would give more speed to my newer Apple devices. 

    I see that AppleInsider published a new article about alternative routers today. But I would love to see yet another follow up article to that which shows us which of those routers compares with Apple’s Airport in terms of setup ease. Airport is almost like a one-click setup. You don’t have to fiddle with a lot of fancy settings to get basic functionality to work.  If I ever need to replace my white tower Airport in the future, I want the replacement router to be just as easy to set up and as compatible as my existing airport.  Sadly, that wasn’t the case with the Archer C7, despite MacWorld magazine having strongly recommended it. 

    Thanks.
  • Reply 64 of 79
    What's disgraceful is that Apple never released a tool for iOS to access Time Capsule storage -- the Files app will not talk to it!  WTF.  

    I replaced my stock 2TB Time Capsule drive w/10TB WD Red drive -- it's better now. :)  Just need a way for iOS to connect to it.  Why has no 3rd party come out with one?!

    Shitty that Apple is doing this now -- obviously this will be their excuse why AirPort devices will not support AirPlay 2.  :(
    edited April 2018
  • Reply 65 of 79
    When they rolled the AirPort team into the Apple TV team I had high hopes that they were going to introduce a new line of mesh products. Imagine imagine every Apple TV and HomePod also acting as a mesh router extending your home network everywhere you have an Apple product. All, of course, with Apple's famous it just works functionality.
    libertyforallwatto_cobra
  • Reply 66 of 79
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,832member
    People keep bringing up 5G.  Couple of problems there.  First, it is not rolling out widespread any time soon.  Some companies are doing small scale installs, but it will be years before it is ubiquitous.  Dropping the Airports now would be way too early if you are going to argue 5G is the reason.  Second, most of the carriers plan to deploy 5G in the higher frequencies which is actually millimeter wave radio.  Radio waves at that frequency can't penetrate, walls, windows or even leaves on trees.  Outdoors there will be small transceivers installed everywhere - on top of light posts, traffic lights, corners of buildings, the walls of buildings - they will be a plague of boxes, antennas and fiber optic cables.  If you want 5G inside your home you will need some as yet non-existant hardware to bring the radio waves inside and distribute them to each room.  Yeah, that sounds practical.  5G is going to take a very long time to reach the ubiquity of 4G.  In fact what I have been reading says that 4G will always reamain in use as a fallback for the frequent times your phone drops off 5G.  Yep, 4G will never go away.

    I gotta figure that for the Airports, some person inside Apple has charts and graphs for every product line showing expenses, profitability, growth potential etc. etc.  Obviously the charts and graphs showed the Airport division was waning and becoming unprofictable.  Apple runs their business in a very different way from a lot of compnies, but they still want divisions to make money.  Like someone said, the routers from the cable companies/ISPs get the job done and probably severely ate into Airport revenue over the lat 10 years.  I will miss them and there's no way Apple is bringing them back.  It's goodbye forever.
    edited April 2018 libertyforallcgWerkswatto_cobra
  • Reply 67 of 79
    macxpress said:
    [...] If you get a good router (not a $39 one) it will make absolutely no difference at all when using it just like it does today with most users of Apple products. 
    Will it?

    Have you tried using Back to My Mac? Screen Sharing? AirDrop? Home Sharing? iCloud Photos? iCloud email? iTunes Match? Time Machine on the network? You may be surprised to discover how many features quit working with a stock configuration of a third-party router.

    I tried using the WiFi modem supplied by the cable company and was surprised to discover that I could no longer screen share with my home theatre Mac mini because of some kind of port issue on the router. Simply switching to the Airport for routing instead of the cable box solved the issue.

    A few years ago I tried some popular, highly-recommended third-party router and Back to My Mac wouldn't work. Again, switching back to an Apple router solved the problem.

    If all you're using WiFi for is an internet connection, then yeah, it doesn't matter all that much where it's sourced. However, some of Apple's own services seem to be hardware sensitive. Average schmucks like me lack the expertise to manually manage router configuration. We buy Apple stuff so we don't HAVE to deal with that kind of thing.
    welshdog
  • Reply 68 of 79
    jdw said:
    [...] I would love to see yet another follow up article to that which shows us which of those routers compares with Apple’s Airport in terms of setup ease. 
    Not even just ease of setup, but how well it works with the Apple services that depend on specific router settings. I don't know which ones that would be -- that's way above my pay grade -- but my experience with non-Apple routers suggests that it's not safe to assume that any third-party router will work properly with all the device interactions Apple's ecosystem offers.

    For me, the benefit of the Apple router was that I knew it was configured to support Apple's services while still maintaining security. I might be able to poke around in the settings of a third-party router to enable stuff that's off by default, but I lack the expertise to know whether I'm comprising security in the process.
  • Reply 69 of 79
    steveausteveau Posts: 292member
    entropys said:
    I think it is shortsIghted. A comprehensive Apple digital hub/ecosystem would have to be a great selling point.
    A cheap, lower price airport express replacement optimised for third party speakers or just an extender. A puck.
    Linked into a router mesh network complete with local backup tailored not only for phones, tablets, computers, speakers and TVs but also HomeKit devices. that a ten year old can set up.
    Apple easy configuration of course. Remember that? Thing is, a competitively priced ecosystem would make it more likely people will buy homepods and Apple TVs don’t you think?

    it is this sort of neglect that killed off the Thunderbolt Display and the embarrassment that is the Mac mini and the MBA.
    Instead of totally discontinuing something (monitors, routers, etc.) why doesn't Apple follow the Claris-FileMaker Pro path? Allow those in the team who want to to set up an semi-independent subsidiary. Apple loses the distraction and risk of a no longer vital product line, but keeps 51% of the profit (or whatever) and the ability to bring the team and the product back into the fold in the future (e.g. ClarisWorks came back as Pages & Numbers). They could call it X-Apple or name it after one of the hundreds of varieties of Apple: Pippin anyone?
    cgWerkswatto_cobra
  • Reply 70 of 79
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,170member
     Average schmucks like me lack the expertise to manually manage router configuration. We buy Apple stuff so we don't HAVE to deal with that kind of thing.
    macgui <--- Fellow Average Schmuck.

    That's exactly why I went from a Netgear wireless router to an AEBS. Setup and updating are fairly easy for me. Apple's AU needs a little work to be more self-explanatory (maybe I've even less sharp then the AS) and may lack the ability for heavy hitters to really get their hands dirty in configuring.

    I'm betting Apple is out of the router business, along with the display business, but I really, really want to be wrong.
  • Reply 71 of 79
    jccjcc Posts: 307member
    The only reason they’re discontinuing these devices is because they’re (sr mgmt) lazy. They would rather join the boards of foundations.
  • Reply 72 of 79
    Soli said:
    Soli said:
    Reasons why I'm not giving up hope just yet:

    • WWDC  is right around the corner.
    • Much higher pricing of mesh routers would appeal to Apple from a business standpoint
    • Users seem to understand (better) the need for a quality, powerful, and secure router system
    • The most popular players in the market have considerably less expertise than Apple
    • There are a lot more Apple customers today than when they started offering routers
    • The general market for routers is much higher than it used to be
    • Apple has a leg up due to the customer trust that they've earned.

    Would Apple go out of the way to say that the product line is terminated if they were going to do something in that space?

    Why wouldn't they simply ride the wave of silence for another 5-6 weeks?

    Where did you see that Apple was terminating all router efforts? All I read was "We’re discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products," which is a very specific statement.


    OK. I see where you're coming from and I'm hoping they have a mesh network offering soon.

    I still think you maybe getting too pedantic with the wording of what Apple said.

  • Reply 73 of 79
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,840member
    macxpress said:
    [...] If you get a good router (not a $39 one) it will make absolutely no difference at all when using it just like it does today with most users of Apple products. 
    Will it?

    Have you tried using Back to My Mac? Screen Sharing? AirDrop? Home Sharing? iCloud Photos? iCloud email? iTunes Match? Time Machine on the network? You may be surprised to discover how many features quit working with a stock configuration of a third-party router.

    I tried using the WiFi modem supplied by the cable company and was surprised to discover that I could no longer screen share with my home theatre Mac mini because of some kind of port issue on the router. Simply switching to the Airport for routing instead of the cable box solved the issue.
    Aside from connecting from the outside world back into your network, it would have to be kind of a wacky setup for stuff like you've listed not to work. In other words, any off the shelf router with basic settings should do. But, some ISPs *do* have some really, really stupid setups. I'm guessing it isn't so much that you went from Apple to non-Apple, as that you went from Apple (internal routing) to the ISPs junk.

    But, as I mentioned above, even some of the ISPs have started to wake up and provide decent equipment and settings... at least here in Canada. I can't speak for the current state of ISPs in the USA, but they are pretty dolt-headed, in general.

    lorin schultz said:
    For me, the benefit of the Apple router was that I knew it was configured to support Apple's services while still maintaining security. I might be able to poke around in the settings of a third-party router to enable stuff that's off by default, but I lack the expertise to know whether I'm comprising security in the process.
    Yea, the software interfaces and setups on most other routers are pretty bad. Certainly not end-user friendly.
  • Reply 74 of 79
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,877member
    mike54 said:
    Why is Tim Cook cutting off such a vital piece of internet and home network connectivity is short sighted, granted it has been stagnated for more than a few years now.
    They had the engineering talent to improve on the technologies and functionality of these units and Apple had had alot to offer in the router/modem space especially to Apple customers. This is yet another in a list of items that Tim Cook hasn't been interested in since becoming CEO.
    I suspect Tim (Apple) is doing that because they have developed a better solution!
    Well LTE was always meant to a small base station and peer to peer capability. If something has changed in that landscape to now make that feasibly then wifi might be effectively legacy. Move every device to LTE that uses wired internet data in the house and stays connected leaving the house. Well and I guess like here most wired internet providers give you a wifi-modem anyway to cover that legacy.

    Sticking point would seems to be bad royalty agreements from the tech providers and bad deals from cell providers wanting far to much a month per device.
    We know there has been movement on one front.
  • Reply 75 of 79
    eightzero said:
    I'm late to the party here, but have a genuine question: can anyone recommend a reliable, well supported wifi router that can handle a VPN service? It'd be kinda nice to have all the wifi traffic on a router go though a VPN service. Suggestions?

    A second tech question: I'd kinda like to test some of these new wifi routers before my airports become untenable, but I dislike the idea of disconnecting the latter before I need to. What device can I put between a cable modem and multiple routers? I don't think I can daisy chain these things. I'd like to put up a second wifi router on that same modem to test it. TIA.
    First of all, I personally did not investigate the mesh networks so my proposal does not take these into account.

    About your first question, which I guess was not answered, and assuming you feel ready to take the plunge and try advanced router configuration, you could try pfSense routers from Netgate or their PC Engines APU alternatives (the latter are cheaper but you usually need to assemble them and install the pfSense OS using a USB key and a console cable through the Mac Terminal app). Those provide a web interface and are energy efficient while providing a plethora of network services through the open source pfSense freeBSD based OS. If you plan to have a single network zone (i.e.: subnet) for your WiFi and wired devices, you could get the cheaper Netgate SG-1000 router (https://goo.gl/u1cxSo), add a Netgear or whatever switch connected to the LAN port, and connect at least one wired WiFi access point to the switch (in access point mode, that is: no routing, no DHCP, nothing, just WPA2 authentication, I suggest the Netgear EX6130-100 or equivalent access points on Amazon, cheap, work well, have a weird setup interface though, meant to be easy it seems, but counter intuitive to me). Then add other wired/PLCed access points or repeaters. The access points just connect WiFi clients to the physical network, the pfSense router will handle the rest, including DHCP, it can also manage some types of VPNs, as a client or as a server, or both, such as OpenVPN which is arguably quite simple to set up and works with Apple devices (needs Viscosity on Mac, the free OpenVPN app on iOS). Your cable modem should be set in bridge mode (expecting a single device behind it: no NAT, no routing) and connected to the pfSense WAN port. If not possible, you will have to assign a static IP to the pfSense router WAN interface and set it as a DMZ in your cable modem (full port redirection from the modem to the router). It may not sound straightforward, but you would have a quite stable and extensible (as far as network services are concerned) network, leaving the WiFi side of things to WiFi only network equipment. pfSense can connect to various DynDNS services to allow you to connect to your VPN remotely through an FQDN rather than your public IP. Now, if you need to setup IPv6, it will be a different story...

    In some of your questions, you mentioned the potential need to connect WiFi clients through a VPN. If you meant WiFi clients cannot access your cabled LAN network without authenticating though a VPN first, it still possible, but would require a router with additional ports like the SG-3000 or an APU (except if you want to deal with VLANs which I would not recommend if you're not at ease with advanced network configurations), it will also require some complicated setup to allow Bonjour broadcasts to go through, and would not support the WiFi devices which do not support OpenVPN like the Apple TV and HomePod.

    In all cases you will need to define firewall rules for each router network interface, but you can start with loose "authorize everything outgoing" at first and refine them later on once everything works. Google and the pfSense forums are your friends to find howtos. The SG-1000 route, with a switch and a single access point will cost you about 250$ I guess. The SG-3000 route will cost you about 450$ with a single access point IMO.

    Of course all of this is not the typical Apple like "plug it in and it just works" thing, I can agree with that. At least it will just work once properly setup. :D
  • Reply 76 of 79
    cgWerks said:
    Aside from connecting from the outside world back into your network, it would have to be kind of a wacky setup for stuff like you've listed not to work.
    I don't remember the specifics now, but the first time I tried a non-Apple router I had trouble sending email because of some port setting. Also, many home automation tasks may involve connecting from the outside world back into your network, so that could be a sticking point.

    I was perhaps too broad in my list of services I'd want to check before settling on a third-party router. I didn't mean to suggest that none of them will work, just that I've been surprised by a router disabling Apple services, so I wouldn't assume any particular model supports them all.

    cgWerks said:
    Yea, the software interfaces and setups on most other routers are pretty bad. Certainly not end-user friendly.
    For me it's not even just an ease-of-use issue. Because i don't know what I'm doing, I'm concerned that by futzing around I may inadvertently compromise the security of my network. With an Apple router I have some confidence that the setup does a reasonable job of balancing access with security.
  • Reply 77 of 79
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,999member
    macxpress said:
    [...] If you get a good router (not a $39 one) it will make absolutely no difference at all when using it just like it does today with most users of Apple products. 
    Will it?

    Have you tried using Back to My Mac? Screen Sharing? AirDrop? Home Sharing? iCloud Photos? iCloud email? iTunes Match? Time Machine on the network? You may be surprised to discover how many features quit working with a stock configuration of a third-party router.

    I tried using the WiFi modem supplied by the cable company and was surprised to discover that I could no longer screen share with my home theatre Mac mini because of some kind of port issue on the router. Simply switching to the Airport for routing instead of the cable box solved the issue.

    A few years ago I tried some popular, highly-recommended third-party router and Back to My Mac wouldn't work. Again, switching back to an Apple router solved the problem.

    If all you're using WiFi for is an internet connection, then yeah, it doesn't matter all that much where it's sourced. However, some of Apple's own services seem to be hardware sensitive. Average schmucks like me lack the expertise to manually manage router configuration. We buy Apple stuff so we don't HAVE to deal with that kind of thing.
    There's a whole world of routers between the ISP-supplied router and the Apple routers. My router does everything on your list, except time machine (which I don't use).
  • Reply 78 of 79
    cgWerkscgWerks Posts: 2,840member
    lorin schultz said:
    For me it's not even just an ease-of-use issue. Because i don't know what I'm doing, I'm concerned that by futzing around I may inadvertently compromise the security of my network. With an Apple router I have some confidence that the setup does a reasonable job of balancing access with security.
    Good point. Yes, for the typical end user, routers should 'just work.'

    I guess my point was that in the last several years, my experience with them has changed more towards that being the case. It's more when you start setting up connections from the outside-in that you have to start monkeying (and quite possibly open yourself up to dangers).

    But, it's mostly now maybe changing passwords from the defaults, if that. I suspect most people just take the SSID and password the 'cable guy' gives them and add all their devices.

    If too many people are doing that, and getting a pretty good experience along with the latest tech (i.e.: ac type router), they are unlikely to spend extra money when the ISP gives them one with their plan.
    edited April 2018
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