Apple has finally released Airplay 2 – almost one year after the announcement. The wireless audio protocol supports multi-room and HomePod stereo-pairing. It also gives Apple TV the ability to transmit sound wirelessly to multiple speakers.
Airplay 2 is a wireless audio protocol
Airplay 2 will be enabled on iOS (iPhone, iPad) as well as tvOS (Apple TV4, Apple TV 4K) as soon as you install the latest version 11.4 software from Apple. tvOS 11.4 brings no other major improvements to Apple TV.
Airplay 2 is the successor to the original Airplay protocol and one of the biggest changes is support for wireless multi-room audio, meaning that you can play the same music throughout the home on all your Airplay 2 capable speakers – or different tunes in each room.
Another big change for Apple TV is the ability to wirelessly beam TV audio to multiple speakers at once. So for example if you have two HomePod and one Airplay 2-enabled soundbar, you can beam your TV audio to all three in perfect synchronization. Apple TV acts as both a receiver and transmitter for Airplay 2, which means that it can also be targeted as an Airplay 2 playback device from an iPhone, iPad or Mac.
Of course, Airplay 2 still supports the ability to wirelessly push video from an iPhone, iPad or Mac onto Apple TV.
Music and video playback can now also be controlled throughout the home from the updated control center on iPhone/iPad or Apple TV. In addition, you can tell Siri to play music (from Apple Music) in any room by asking something like "Play Kaytranada in the living room and kitchen".
The wireless audio protocol has been integrated deep into iOS and tvOS as well as HomeKit, meaning that Airplay 2 devices will show up in the Home app. You can stream music or audio from any service, including Apple Music, Spotify, TuneIn, and the podcast app.
HomePod gets stereo-pairing
With the release of software version 11.4, HomePod gains stereo-parring. This allows you to pair two HomePod devices in a wireless stereo setup.
- “Using spatial awareness to sense their location in the room, each HomePod automatically adjusts the audio to sound great wherever it is placed and sound great together,” said Apple. “With an A8 chip in each speaker, each HomePod is able to play its own audio channel — left or right — while separating out both the ambient and direct energy. This innovative stereo sound provides a wide, almost three dimensional soundstage for an incredible listening experience anywhere in the room.
Airplay 2 support will also come to speakers from other manufacturers via firmware updates or new product launches. These speakers can be integrated seamlessly into your multi-room setup, allowing you to mix and match speakers and audio products from different brands, including Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, Pioneer, and Sonos.
The wireless speaker protocol was announced at last year’s WWDC 2017 conference. It has taken almost a full year to make it available to consumers. Apple kicks off WWDC 2018 next week.
The company also confirmed that HomePod will arrive in Canada, France, and Germany starting June 18.