Today, Apple has released a firmware update for the now discountinued AirPort Express router which enables AirPlay 2 support. While this feature was hinted out throughout the iOS 12 beta’s, in order to acctually add AirPlay 2 support a firmware updated needed to be installed on the AirPort Express, and many, included myself, were skepitcal that it would never actually come to fruition. Today’s firmware release adds the ability to hook up any existing speaker to the AirPort Express router via the auxillary port on the back of the unit and immediately adds AirPlay 2 functionality to it. Here is how to enable the feature:
Open the Apple Home app on your iOS device
Select Add Acessory
Then Select “I don’t have a code” option at the bottom
Select your AirPort Express once it is displayed
Once those steps are completed, the Home app will display a screen allowing you to assign a name and a room to the device. These will allow you to address the device via Siri commands. For example, naming the AirPort Express “Speaker”, and assigning it to the living room, can be used for music by saying phrases such as “Play song title on the Speaker in the living room” or if a song is already playing somewhere in the home, “Play this in the living room” can be used to allow it to join in creating multi-room audio. You can also send songs or other audio to the AirPort Express via iOS’s control center, using either a 3D touch or a tap and hold on the now playing tile, and then by selecting the device.
Needless to say, I am very excited that AirPlay 2 support was added, and am looking forward to trying out different combinations of speakers, and potentially adding more units in order to fill our home with music. AirPort Express units, while discountinued, can still be found cheap, usually around the $50 mark, through various methods, such as eBay, and when paired with an existing or non AirPlay speaker makes it the cheapest option to add multi-room audio to your home.