Everything You Need To Know About AirPlay 2 Rolling Out To Smart TVs Including Why You Should Care

This week at CES, Apple shocked many observers by cutting deals to put AirPlay 2 functionality into a variety of smart TV brands. If you want a complete list of which brands support AirPlay 2, there’s a link on Apple’s website that you can find here which will help you with that. But here’s why this matters. AirPlay 2 offers wireless streaming of content from your Apple device (like your iPhone, iPad or Mac). As in audio streaming and video content. It opens up a whole world of multi-room streaming capabilities that were previously not available on the iPhone or iPad and also ushers in multi-room compatibility for the HomePod. So if you are part of the Apple ecosystem because you have an iPad, or if you have a MacBook Pro, this is a very big deal as you will be able to play your content easily on a variety of smart TVs.

What makes this an even bigger deal is Apple “frenemy” Samsung is also going to include an iTunes client when it rolls out AirPlay 2. And that for now appears to be an exclusive deal. Here’s why that matters:

With the new iTunes Movies and TV Shows app on Samsung Smart TVs, Samsung customers can access their existing iTunes library and browse the iTunes Store to buy or rent from a selection of hundreds of thousands of movies and TV episodes — including the largest selection of 4K HDR movies. iTunes Movies and TV Shows will work seamlessly with Samsung’s Smart TV Services, such as Universal Guide, the New Bixby and Search, to create a consistent experience across Samsung’s platform.

This is all a smart move on Apple’s part as it broadens its ecosystem beyond the Apple TV as smart TVs with AirPlay 2 will also integrate with Siri and HomeKit, meaning you can use your voice to request that a specific show be played on a specific TV, for example. It also sets Apple up well to support their rumored streaming service that may be coming as early as summer of this year.

Now if you look at companies that are getting AirPlay 2 support on their TVs, you’ll note the following brands:

  • LG
  • Samsung
  • Sony
  • Visio

That’s not a huge list, but a lot of big brand names in the TV space are there. And I suspect that many more brands will join the party because all of the above brands based on my searches of Twitter are getting a ton of positive press from this. Mostly. I say that because there’s a petition out there to get LG to push down its support for AirPlay 2 to TVs from 2016, 2017 & 2018. And I expect similar petitions to pop up from the other brands on this list. But this is not a bad thing as it shows that AirPlay 2 is a much desired feature much like Apple CarPlay in cars.

Conversely, TV brands who aren’t on the AirPlay 2 bandwagon as of yet are getting some degree of flak from users who want this feature yesterday. For example TCL who is a fast growing brand in the TV market is under fire today from users who want AirPlay 2 support, but appear not to be getting it based on this article from MacRumors.com. The reason according to the article is that the company is “currently committed to Roku”. And when Roku who provide the OS for the TCL smart TVs products was asked about it, they said “we don’t have anything to share regarding this now”. And while no other Roku TV partner have said anything either way, it’s being assumed on social media as well as in various forums on the Internet that if they did, it would be similar to what TCL said. Now this could be read a couple of ways. It could be that AirPlay 2 may be coming in the future and neither party is talking about it. Or it could be that AirPlay 2 is not coming. Ever. I am going to go out on a limb and say it is the latter as I have asked Roku in various press briefings about AirPlay support over the years, and I have never got the warm fuzzies that support for AirPlay would ever show up in their products. Be it their stand alone players or partners smart TVs. And seeing as Roku is responsible for the software that goes into their partners TVs, it means that if Roku doesn’t do it, it’s not happening. So if it is true that AirPlay 2 support isn’t coming, then everyone involved in my opinion is leaving a lot of cash on the table because there is clearly an appetite for AirPlay 2 out there that will guide a lot of buying decisions the next time someone wants to buy a TV and they are part of the Apple ecosystem. Hopefully that changes quickly for the better.

So, when can you expect to see AirPlay 2 TVs in stores? Likely this summer and into 2019. It is also likely that many existing TVs will get upgraded with AirPlay 2 support as well. So you might want to ping your TV manufacturer for info on that.

 

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