What’s AirPlay 2? All the things you must learn about Apple’s media-sharing function

What is AirPlay 2? Everything you need to know about Apple's media-sharing feature

Are you sick of watching movies on a tiny display screen? Or do wish to play your music over your stereo as a substitute? Apple’s AirPlay 2 permits you to do that and extra, and it is baked proper into each iPhone and Mac.

The unique Apple AirPlay is a proprietary system for streaming audio or video from one Apple supply — sometimes an iPhone, iPad or a Mac laptop — to a different system over a house community. The upgraded AirPlay 2 system expands these capabilities to incorporate many extra units made by different producers, and provides the potential for whole-house leisure.

For the reason that debut of the primary AirPlay 2 system in 2018 — Apple’s personal HomePod — the variety of units that work with AirPlay has expanded dramatically to incorporate TVs, Roku streaming units, AV receivers and audio system. How does AirPlay 2 differ from the Apple’s unique wi-fi protocol, and what are you able to stream it on? Let’s break it down.

What’s AirPlay 2 and the way do I exploit it?

The Sonos One joined the HomePod as one of many first AirPlay 2 units.

Sarah Tew/CNET

AirPlay 2 has numerous completely different makes use of. You need to use it to mirror an iPhone or Mac on one other display screen (nice for sharing video and footage); you possibly can stream video from a appropriate app to a TV (Netflix, Hulu and so on); and you’ll stream audio to audio system.

Beforehand AirPlay was a one-to-one protocol, out of your cellphone to a appropriate speaker, AV receiver or different piece of substances. Whereas this made it similar to Bluetooth audio streaming, AirPlay additionally usually sounded higher, because of the broader bandwidth that Wi-Fi supplies. 

From its inception Apple has maintained that AirPlay 2 can be “constructed all through iOS,” enabling customers to play music from the Apple Music app in addition to third-party apps. Not solely that, however making music playback doable from wherever you’re in the home. 

AirPlay 2 provides the flexibility to stream music to a number of audio units all on the identical time. You may use it to name up a track in your iPhone and play it in a number of rooms concurrently, or choose and select which AirPlay speaker to stream to. Yep, AirPlay can lastly social gathering. As well as, with iOS 14.6 and up, customers can AirPlay songs from Apple in lossless from iPhone to the HomePod and Mini.

AirPlay 2 is backward-compatible and works the identical means as the unique: Hit the AirPlay icon in your cellphone, iPad or Mac to play your content material on accessible audio system or video units. The principle distinction is that older AirPlay units will not be included in multiroom teams.



There are two predominant icons for AirPlay and can fluctuate based on which app you are utilizing: the video icon (a TV with an Arrow), and audio (radiating circles). Urgent both of those will deliver up a listing of units in your community which you’ll then stream to. 

Although AirPlay 2 was introduced earlier than the Apple HomePod, the 2 shortly grow to be synonymous. AirPlay 2 unlocked a number of options of the speaker, together with multiroom and stereo pairing (the flexibility to use separate HomePods as left and proper audio system). AirPlay 2 additionally permits you to ask Siri, Apple’s voice assistant on the speaker and different units, to play music in a specific room or all through the home.

Extra not too long ago Apple added the flexibility for a number of individuals to share management of a music queue. Which means that everybody will be the DJ at your subsequent home social gathering (supplied everybody has their very own Apple Music subscription first.) Spotify can even do that: It is referred to as Group Session however it would not require the usage of AirPlay, and you’ll be in numerous nations.


AirPlay 2 permits you to pair two HomePods and group audio system.

Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Which Apple units do you must use AirPlay? 

The 2 predominant items of Apple {hardware} which are particularly AirPlay 2 appropriate are the Apple TV and the Apple HomePod units. However AirPlay 2 is designed to work with current iPhones, iPads and Mac computer systems. 

The newest model of iOS 15 consists of each multiroom capabilities and HomePod stereo pairing. Any system that runs Apple iOS 12 or later must be appropriate with AirPlay 2. These embrace:

When you’ve got an Apple TV (2015) or the Apple TV 4K operating TVOS 11.4 or higher, it could additionally act as an AirPlay 2 endpoint. That’s you possibly can stream to it out of your system. Moreover, As a way to management a number of audio system/units through your PC you may want iTunes 12.8 or higher, or a Mac with macOS Catalina or later. 


Samsung introduced its partnership with Apple at CES 2019. 


Which audio system and TVs are appropriate with AirPlay 2?

Apple has an in depth record of particular units that help AirPlay 2, however this is a pattern of the preferred fashions. 



A number of TV and video producers help AirPlay 2; Vizio retroactively added the function to TVs from 2016. These embrace:

  • LG (2018-2020 OLED, NanoCell9 and eight sequence, UHD UK 62, UHD UN 8, UHD UN 71)
  • Roku (Categorical, Categorical+, Premiere, Streaming Stick, Extremely, Extremely LT, Roku 3)
  • Samsung (QLED Collection — 2018-2020)
  • Samsung (4 Collection, 5 Collection, 6 Collection, 7 Collection, 8 Collection — 2018-2020)
  • Sony (A9G Collection, Z9G Collection, X850G Collection X950G Collection)
  • TCL Roku TV (4-Collection, 5-Collection, 6-Collection & 8-Collection) 
  • Vizio D-Collection (2018, 2019), P-Collection (2018, 2017 and 2016), P-Collection Quantum (2018-2020), Quantum X (2019, 2020)
  • Vizio M-Collection (2018, 2017 and 2016), M-Collection Quantum (2019, 2020)
  • Vizio E-Collection (2018, 2017 and 2016 UHD fashions), V-Collection (2019, 2020)

How does AirPlay 2 evaluate?

Wi-fi multiroom audio has been round since 2004, because of the efforts of corporations like Sonos, Squeezebox and Roku. Apple was comparatively late to the sport, and certain spurred by the success of Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Alexa. AirPlay 2 has helped the corporate catch up, notably for house owners of the HomePod and mini, however the firm nonetheless has some floor to achieve. 

The actual boon right here is video help — AirPlay 2 makes it a lot simpler for iOS customers to stream Netflix to each TVs and Roku units. You not want to purchase an costly Apple TV with a purpose to watch Ted Lasso freed from the confines of your iPhone display screen. 

Replace, Oct. 9, 2021: This story was initially printed Might 23, 2018 and has since been up to date to mirror modifications together with the variety of fashions that help AirPlay 2

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