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Apple AirPlay 2: Everything you need to know



Almost exactly a year after his announcement, AirPlay 2 has finally arrived.

Apple unveiled AirPlay 2 at last year's World Wide Developer's Conference and – with today's release of iOS 11.4 – it's finally available to end users. Apple's own HomePod is the first device to offer compatibility with the updated Wi-Fi audio streaming technology, but it's not the last: according to a list on the Apple website, at least 32 products from 6 other brands will soon be compatible , [1

9659002] What is AirPlay 2 and how does it differ from Apple's original AirPlay music and video streaming protocol? Let's break it.

Updated May 29, 8:58 PM ET: Added third-party devices supporting AirPlay 2

AirPlay 2 brings multiroom audio to AirPlay

  Sonos One

The Sonos One will one of the first AirPlay 2 devices


Sarah Tew / CNET

AirPlay is Apple's proprietary system that allows you to transfer audio or video data from an Apple source device (iPhone, iPad ($ 329.99 at Best Buy) or Mac Computer – to another device Wi-Fi). Fi or wired home network. When streaming video, "other device" must be an Apple TV, but for audio, it can be an AirPlay-compatible speaker, AV receiver, or other third-party device. As long as it has the "AirPlay" badge, it should work. Compared to Bluetooth audio streaming, AirPlay generally sounds better thanks to the wider bandwidth offered by Wi-Fi.

AirPlay 2 offers the ability to simultaneously stream music across multiple audio devices. You can use it to play a song on your iPhone and simultaneously play it in several rooms in the house or choose which AirPlay speaker you want to stream. Yes, AirPlay can finally celebrate.

Although AirPlay 2 was announced before the Apple HomePod – Apple's answer to Amazon Echo and Google's home speakers – the two have become almost synonymous. AirPlay 2 will unlock several of the speaker's promised features, including multiroom and stereo pairing (the ability to use separate HomePods as left and right speakers ). You can also ask Siri, Apple's voice assistant for the speaker and other devices, to play music in a specific room or throughout the house.

WWDC 2017 Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Development Craig Federighi announced that AirPlay 2 would be built "throughout iOS". He said people could use the AirPlay 2 Audio Toolkit directly from the Apple Music app to play music and third-party speakers. Another promised feature allows you to create "Shared Up Next" or multi-user playlists within Apple Music.

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As you can see in Apple's iOS Public Beta, AirPlay 2 allows you to pair two HomePods and Group Loudspeakers.


Screenshots of Megan Wollerton / CNET

Which Apple device do you need?

The two most important pieces of hardware that Apple has designated as compatible with AirPlay 2 are Apple TV and Apple HomePod. But AirPlay 2 will also work with the latest iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

Both iOS 11.3 and 11.4 Beta include the ability for developers to test these capabilities (we also made our own beta test of AirPlay 2 ).

In short, any device capable of running Apple iOS 11 is probably also compatible with AirPlay2. These include:

Apple still needs to announce what version of iTunes it needs, but it is likely that both Macs and PCs can act as controllers or servers for AirPlay 2.

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Sarah Tew / CNET

Which 3rd party devices support AirPlay 2?

Apple has listed which specific devices will support AirPlay 2, including many that may compete against Apple's HomePod. Here is the complete list.

  • Beoplay A6, A9 mk2, M3
  • BeoSound 1, 2, 35, core, Essence mk2
  • BeoVision Eclipse (audio only) [19659030] Denon AVR X3500H, AVR-X4500H, AVR-X6500H
  • Libratone Zipp Zipp Mini
  • Marantz AV7705, NA6006, NR1509, NR1609
  • Marantz SR5013, SR6013, SR7013
  • [19459005NaimMu-so Mu-so QB
  • Naim ND 555 ND5 XS 2, NDX 2
  • Naim Uniti Nova, Uniti Atom, Uniti Star
  • Sonos One ($ 199.00 at Amazon.com) Sonos Play: 5 (Version 2015) Sono Playbase

In addition, these companies have announced support At WWDC 2017, specific models still have to be announced:

The Sonos One smart speaker with Alexa (and soon Google Assistant) is a direct competitor to HomePod, but the company announced support for AirPlay 2 at startup and added the Play: 5 and the PlayBase ($ 699.00 at Amazon.com) to the list of supported devices. Sonos has not yet described in detail how integration will work, but it will likely follow the existing Spotify Connect methodology. Compatible Sonos products appear as available speakers in both Apple Home and AirPlay menus.

Interestingly, half the manufacturers that support AirPlay 2 are also Play-Fi partners, and it turns out that this is no coincidence. Dannie Lau, general manager of DTS Play-Fi, told CNET, "We're adding Airplay 2 support to the DTS Play-Fi platform, and any manufacturer wishing to license Apple's AirPlay 2 can do so in their DTS Play-Fi Activate product. "

How will AirPlay 2 compete?

There is no doubt that Apple is late for the multi-room wireless audio party, which has been part of the audio landscape for 15 years, starting with Sonos, Squeezebox and Roku. Google's Chromecast and Amazon's Alexa system have multiroom audio support since the summer of 2017.

As a result, Apple is several years and several audio products behind the leader. AirPlay 2 could catch up especially for the owners of the HomePod, but there is still a long way to go.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on May 23, 2018 and has since been updated to reflect the release of iOS 11.4 and AirPlay 2.


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