Tag Archive for ‘AirPlay’

Sonos One SL ➝

I missed this when it was first announced last fall. It’s a Sonos speaker with all of the software and features you’d expect, but it doesn’t include any voice assistants. In fact, the device has no built-in microphones at all. With AirPlay 2 and a $179 price tag, this seems like an excellent alternative to the HomePod for areas of your house where you’d prefer not to have any microphones.

We have a HomePod in Josh’s room so we can play lullabies and white noise from our phones, but we have “Hey Siri” disabled on it to prevent us from accidentally invoking Siri during his naps. Although we can still hold the top to speak with Siri, in practice, that never actually happens. I might pick up one of these One SLs to replace his HomePod.

That will also let us move the HomePod into the living room. The spot I have in mind is conveniently located near our front entryway, the doorway to our basement/garage, the hallway to our bedrooms, and the dining room. It’s the perfect location for a HomePod because we pass by it to go just about anywhere in our home. We can easily speak to Siri on our way to turn on any HomeKit devices we need.

➝ Source: sonos.com

Netflix No Longer Supports AirPlay ➝

From a Netflix spokesperson, as published by MacRumors:

We want to make sure our members have a great Netflix experience on any device they use. With AirPlay support rolling out to third-party devices, there isn’t a way for us to distinguish between devices (what is an Apple TV vs. what isn’t) or certify these experiences. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue Netflix AirPlay support to ensure our standard of quality for viewing is being met. Members can continue to access Netflix on the built-in app across Apple TV and other devices.

Translation: AirPlay coming to non-Apple devices makes it difficult for us to prevent piracy. At least that’s my interpretation.

But you can just add this to the list of reasons I’m happy that I canceled Netflix a couple years ago — alongside their decision to not be included in the TV app and their decision to remove in-app subscription purchases from their iOS and Apple TV apps.

AirPlay 2 Coming to Smart TVs ➝

From Apple’s AirPlay webpage:

Leading TV manufacturers are integrating AirPlay 2 directly into their TVs, so now you can effortlessly share or mirror almost anything from your iOS device or Mac directly to your AirPlay 2–enabled smart TV. You can even play music on the TV and sync it with other AirPlay 2–compatible speakers anywhere in your home.

Samsung was the first to announce support for AirPlay 2 alongside the ability to stream iTunes movies and TV shows on their smart TVs, but I expect we’ll be seeing more television manufacturers announcing support soon too.

AirPort Express Software Update Adds AirPlay 2 and Home App Support ➝

Zac Hall, writing for 9 to 5 Mac:

Apple’s AirPort line may be discontinued, but AirPort Express got one heck of an update today. Firmware update 7.8 for the latest AirPort Express hardware (2012 2nd-gen model, no longer sold) adds support for AirPlay 2 and Apple’s Home app. The teaser for support has been present since iOS 11.4 beta, but support hasn’t been live before today’s version 7.8 firmware update.

I just updated my AirPort Express a few minutes ago and, as I said on Twitter: “Holy cow, they actually did it”. Although, I had to do a bit of fiddling to get it to show up in the Home app. After the firmware upgrade, the Home app wouldn’t see my AirPort Express until after I sent audio to it. Not entirely sure why, but its working now — I’m not going to complain too much.

Aside from iOS devices and Macs, I believe this is the first time Apple has released a software update for a discontinued product that introduced new features. Maybe they’ve done so for security reasons, but this is uncharted territory for them. And its pretty darn rad.

The Apple TV’s Value Proposition

John Gruber, on Apple’s cultural insularity and how it affects the Apple TV:

Earlier this week I wrote about my vague concern about Apple’s insular culture. Apple TV is the product line where I think that might really be a problem. Apple charges a significant premium over the average product in PCs, tablets, and phones. It works for them in those markets. That’s what Apple does and has always done: they make superior, premium products for people willing to pay for them.

But with Apple TV, I’m hearing from a lot of people who are in the Apple ecosystem — people who own MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones — who just don’t want to spend $200 for an Apple TV when they can get a Roku or Fire TV for a lot less.

John mentions iTunes as the primary selling point for the Apple TV, but I don’t see it that way and I don’t think Apple does either. When the default behavior of the remote’s home button was changed late last year, that was a clear signal about the device’s primary function — it’s all about the TV App.

With the introduction of the fourth-generation Apple TV, Tim Cook proudly proclaimed that “the future of TV is apps.” But that all changed when they released the TV App alongside tvOS 10.1. Apps were still an important part of their strategy, but it was secondary to streaming media.

The TV App offers the best experience because it bundles all (or most) of your streaming services into a single, unified interface. That’s what the Apple TV is all about. It’s a huge disappointment that Netflix isn’t supported, but even if only two of your streaming services work well with the TV App, you’re still better off using it than not.

Is the TV App alone worth the additional cost of purchasing an Apple TV over the competition? Probably not. Especially since the Apple TV is so much more expensive than the competition. AirPlay, iTunes, and Apple Music helps, but not enough.

In the lead up to Apple’s September event, when it was widely rumored that Apple would be introducing a 4K-capable Apple TV, I whole-heartedly expected Apple to drop the price of the fourth-generation Apple TV to $99. This would have fit with the pattern that Apple has exhibited over the past several years — replace the existing product at the same price point and lower the price of “last year’s model”.

If Apple announced Apple TV 4K, starting at $149, and lowered the price of the fourth-generation Apple TV down to $99, I think it would be an easier sell for most people. And I don’t think there would be as many Apple TV users looking to switch to Roku or Fire TV. Most consumers still don’t have 4K-capable televisions and “last year’s model” at $99 would be just fine for them. But of course, that isn’t what Apple chose to do.

In most of Apple’s markets, the difference between their experience — iPhone, MacBook, iPad — and the competition is vast. But on a device that spends most of its time streaming content from another company, it’s harder to see the value in spending so much more on an Apple product. The TV App, iTunes, AirPlay, and Apple Music aren’t enough to justify the additional cost for a lot of users. If Apple wants to remain a major player in this race, they have to do something soon.

From my perspective, Apple has a handful of options:

  • Start selling the Apple TV with a bundled game controller.
  • Hire (or acquire) a game development company to build titles that are exclusive to tvOS.
  • Push hard for third-party developers to build top-tier games for the platform.
  • Lower the fourth-generation Apple TV’s price to something that’s more competitive in the current market. $99 is my suggestion, but the lower they go, the better.

The best case scenario is for Apple to do all of these things at the same time, but I’m not convinced they’ll do any of them. Apple should be well aware of the problems with their offering and the announcement of the Apple TV 4K was their opportunity to address them. They didn’t. I just hope they have something incredible coming to platform soon that will position the Apple TV as more than just the expensive option.

I’ve had an Apple TV connected to the first HDMI input on my television for a decade and I’ve owned every model ever released. I don’t want to see one of my favorite products die a slow death because Apple wasn’t willing to put in the time to make it the most compelling option. The Apple TV can be the best streaming box available, even at its current price, but Apple needs to do more to make that happen.

Rogue Amoeba Brings Native Apple TV Compatibility Back to Airfoil ➝

Paul Kafasis, writing on the Rogue Amoeba weblog:

We’ve got a great update for Airfoil for Mac today which enables it to once again send audio directly to all versions of the Apple TV. Airfoil for Mac 5.6 is a free update, available immediately by selecting “Check for Update” from the Airfoil menu.

I’m impressed with how quickly the folks at Rogue Amoeba were able to release this update. It’s only been a month since they were forced to release Airfoil Speakers for Apple TV as a workaround to tvOS 10.2’s new AirPlay requirements.

Rogue Amoeba Releases Airfoil Satellite TV for the Apple TV ➝

John Voorhees, on Airfoil Satellite TV:

The app, which can receive an audio stream from Airfoil for macOS, is available as a free download on the Apple TV App Store. When you open Airfoil Satellite TV on your Apple TV, a new audio destination appears in Airfoil on your Mac named ‘Airfoil Satellite on [Your Apple TV Name].’ Pick that destination and music starts streaming from your Mac to your Apple TV.

Airfoil for the Mac was able to send audio to the Apple TV until last month when tvOS 10.2 broke compatibility. With version 10.2, tvOS requires any device attempting to send media over AirPlay to authenticate itself with an automatically generated on-screen passcode or a user-created password. This functionality is already built into Apple’s software, but third-party apps like Airfoil are being forced to find workarounds.

The good news is that Rogue Amoeba, the developers of Airfoil, are hard at work on an update that will allow you to stream audio to your Apple TV without the use of Airfoil Satellite TV. They haven’t revealed how this will work in detail, but my guess is that they’ve found a way to authenticate Airfoil with the Apple TV using a user-created password in the AirPlay settings.

Apple ‘AirPlay Direct’ Planned for September Launch ➝

Matt Warman writing for The Telegraph:

Sources familiar with the iPhone-maker’s plans said that Apple wants to improve the AirPlay wireless music streaming technology, which currently requires Airplay speakers and a WiFi network. The new version will require just speakers or a hifi and an iDevice; the iPhone, iPod or iPad would form its own network to allow a direct connection and music playback.