AirPlay 2 is the latest version of Apple’s wireless streaming platform included in the recently released iOS 11. The updated version of AirPlay lets you send audio to multiple AirPlay supported speakers at once, from any iOS device, opening up a whole world of multi-room audio streaming capabilities that were previously not available on the iPhone or iPad.

Apple’s Airplay 2 allows for the configuration of a multi-room audio system with any compatible speakers and controls it from inside third-party apps or AirPlay itself. AirPlay 2 support is also backed into macOS 10.13 and tvOS 11, so you’ll be able to send podcasts or music from your favorite playlists to multiple speakers throughout your home from your Mac or Apple TV. All of this controllable from your Apple TV remote, the AirPlay app, or Siri.

What is Airplay?

AirPlay was first introduced in September 2010, having previously been called AirTunes and available only for audio streaming. The streaming protocol found its way onto iOS devices in November 2010, and it was eventually adapted for screen mirroring in June 2011.

For its ease of use and direct pairing with iOS devices, AirPlay has been one of the most used streaming platforms since its launch.

What is new with Apple’s Airplay 2?

For several years now, Apple’s smart connectivity system has boasted its ability to stream music directly from an iPad, iPhone or macOS device to connected speakers. Streaming is done primarily via your home WiFi, although some devices aren’t required to be on the same network.

Apple AirPlay 2 will add speaker control to the Home app, meaning that for the first time, you will be able to individually control all of your AirPlay speakers from your iPhone. What’s more, when you play music from your iOS device, you will be able to select which speakers around your home you want it to be sent to and control individual volumes, a functionality only previously available from iTunes on your MacBook.

Another new feature showcased with AirPlay 2, is the ability for multiple users to add songs to one playlist. Other Apple Music users will be able to send songs they want played to the source iPhone, doing away with having to connect and reconnect several phones, and keeping the party going without interruption.

Which Apple devices will support AirPlay 2?

AirPlay 2 support rolls in with Apple’s iOS 11 and tvOS operating systems.

This means all recent iPhone and iPad devices will have this feature seamlessly enabled. To get AirPlay 2 up and running, you simply need to update your iPhone or iPad to iOS 11. Once you’ve done this, your Apple Music and Home apps will be ready to stream all your favorite songs via AirPlay 2.

Can current AirPlay products be upgraded to support AirPlay 2?

Yes, and no. Some manufacturers, like Naim and Libratone, have confirmed that you’ll be able to simply run a software update on the speaker to benefit from the new features, but others will require you buying a completely new speaker in order to take advantage of the new capabilities the AirPlay 2 has to offer.

What speakers are supported?

Naturally, Apple’s just-announced HomePod will support AirPlay 2. And while the HomePod cannot be streamed to over Bluetooth, only supporting AirPlay 2 and any devices that can access the iCloud, AirPlay 2’s capabilities extend to a multitude of other devices.

With more hi-fi speaker companies expected to join the list, those that have pledged their compatibility and support to AirPlay 2 so far include:
Bang & Olufsen
Bowers & Wilkins
Definitive Technologies

Third-party apps like Spotify and Castro will be able to send audio to multiple speakers once they’re updated to support AirPlay 2. And of course, you’ll need iOS 11 (or tvOS 11 or macOS 10.13) to run those apps.

If you are looking for award-winning quality in home automation and audio system installation, please give us call. We will be happy to schedule a demo with you and have a conversation about options for you and your home.