Apple has officially killed off its AirPort wireless hardware but that hasn’t stopped it from adding new features to parts of the lineup, with today seeing the AirPort Express receive a firmware update, taking it to version 7.8.
While that in itself is interesting, it’s the addition of a headline new feature that will garner the most attention; support for AirPlay 2 and Apple’s Home app is now part of that update.
For those unfamiliar with the AirPort Express, the wireless router and access point has a built-in AUX port that can be used to connect a speaker via line-in. This has allowed it to be a great way of giving AirPlay support to speakers over the years, and now that AirPlay 2 is supported that looks set to be continued along with the additional features afforded by the updated protocol.
With AirPlay 2 support on-board, the AirPort Express can now converse with Apple’s Home app, just like a HomePod or other AirPlay 2-compatible speaker such as the Sonos devices that received similar updates recently, as well as the Apple TV. The update itself can be installed via the AirPort Utility app on either iOS or macOS and is something we suggest everyone installs without delay.
Once that installation is done users can fire up the Home app and then add a new accessory before selecting which room their AirPort Express is on and going through the usual Home setup process. Along with support for Home, AirPlay 2 support also gives the AirPort Express improved audio performance thanks to lower latency as well as multi-room playback. In order to take advantage of AirPlay 2 users will need to have iOS 11.4.1 or later installed on their iOS devices.
If you are interested in getting AirPort Express for sole purpose of turning your existing speaker system into an AirPlay 2-compatible speaker system, you can get AirPort Express from here as Apple no longer sells them.
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