In the summer of 2018, Apple launched its new streaming protocol, AirPlay 2. Since then, it has been increasingly finding its way into speakers and other products. But what benefits do you get from owning a device that supports AirPlay 2? And what advantages does it offer to your Smart Home? That’s exactly what we’re focusing on in this blog post.
Like its predecessor, AirPlay 2 is a streaming protocol developed by Apple which can be used with the company’s own products, but is also available for products made by other manufacturers. It allows you to transmit music, videos, and other content from one device to another, e.g. from an iPhone to a speaker or TV. This means that you can not only stream music, but also mirror the display of an iOS device on a TV or another screen.
Without a doubt, the most exciting improvement is the new multi-room feature. It allows you to connect to several speakers at the same time, for example to play the same music in multiple rooms. You’ll also benefit from improved audio buffering. Instead of the few seconds offered by its predecessor, AirPlay 2 can buffer much further ahead thanks to an increased data transmission speed. This ensures that you can stream music and other content more reliably and without interruptions, even if you do encounter connection issues.
The controls and responsiveness have also been improved. With the first generation of AirPlay, you would occasionally experience short delays, for example when pausing a song. AirPlay 2 responds much quicker, which is especially noticeable when streaming music in everyday life. If you own two of Apple’s HomePod smart speakers, you can also link them as a stereo pair. These are the most important new features of AirPlay 2.
There’s still the question of which advantages AirPlay 2 offers when it comes to your “Smart Home”. The major benefit is that speakers and other devices that support AirPlay 2 can be integrated into HomeKit and thus appear in the Apple Home app. They can also be assigned to a room. This means that you can control them centrally, including through the Siri voice assistant.
For example, you can simply say, «Hey Siri, play my favourite playlist in the living room», to stream your music to the speaker in the living room via AirPlay 2. But that’s not all – you can also change the volume or turn off a device when you leave the house, to give a couple of examples. Another exciting feature: more and more TVs are now compatible with AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. This means you can also integrate your TV into HomeKit and switch it on through Siri, for example.
The list of AirPlay 2-compatible speakers is growing steadily. Compatible smart speakers, meaning those with an integrated voice assistant, include Apple’s HomePod with Siri, as well as the Sonos ONE and Libratone’s Zipp 2/Zipp 2 Mini, which have Alexa.
A wide range of multi-room speakers also already support AirPlay 2, or will do soon. These include the Sonos PLAY:5, Bang & Olufsen Beosound 2, and Denon HEOS HS2. On top of that, more and more devices such as AV receivers by Denon and Yamaha have been added to the list.
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