Apple have updated their AirPlay system for connecting to devices and speakers with some great additions for listening around the house.
With the launch of iOS 11.4 Apple have also released the new version of their AirPlay music streaming software. Originally called AirTunes, the software uses WiFi to stream music from one device to another and has grown to include video streaming, device screen sharing and photo sharing since it’s inception.
AirPlay 2 brings a bunch of new features sure to tantalise Apple device owners. The most exciting new feature of AirPlay 2 is multi-room support with multiple devices which means you can stream to multiple speakers at the same time, but they don’t need to be the same brand. This means you could connect a Sonos speaker to a Bang & Olufsen speaker to both play simultaneously.
Unfortunately the list of speakers that are compatible with AirPlay 2 isn’t that big and most of the speakers come at a premium price. As The Verge note, the cheapest available speaker that will work with AirPlay 2 is the Sonos One which itself costs $199.99. But this will be music to the ears of anyone who owns two different branded speakers with wireless capabilities, as finally there’s a way to use them both.
Apple have increased the buffer size when streaming on AirPlay meaning that if there’s a connection issue the track can keep playing for longer before it stops or reconnects, resulting in less interruptions in your listening experience. Apple have also optimised clock syncing between devices and added multi-room playability from their HomePod and iOS devices, whereas before you could only stream multi-room from a Mac.
AirPlay 2 fixes an issue in which the music would stop playing if you took a call, played a video, played games or anything else which took over the sound. With the HomePod you can now use Siri to move your music streaming from one place to another just by telling Apple’s AI assistant to move the music to whichever speaker you like.
AirPlay unfortunately retains it’s system of streaming music through the phone and wirelessly playing that through the connected sound-system. The issue with this is, if you’re listening to Apple Music for example and your phone dies then the music will stop whereas other connected systems like Google Cast connect with your account on the speaker and play it directly through it’s output. Only playing via Apple’s Homepod speaker eliminates this issue.
The list of speaker makers currently working with AirPlay 2: Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, Pioneer, and Sonos.