Apple makes some much-loved technology, but the notoriously proprietary company doesn’t normally like to share with others. For 2019, Apple has apparently made a serious philosophical shift on that front when it comes to AirPlay 2, its wireless video and audio streaming protocol. After landing in a variety of 2019 TVs, including those from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio, Apple is now reportedly in talks to send the technology to Roku and its expansive family of streaming devices, according to a February report from Mac Rumors.
After a few weeks of back-and-forth on the deal, that agreement to allow Roku devices access to Airplay 2 has reportedly been finalized, according to another Mac Rumors post.
According to the initial report, Airplay 2 support would come in the form of a software update, rather than requiring those who own Roku hardware to buy new devices. The update would more than likely allow those who have Roku-enabled smart TVs, such as those from TCL, access to Airplay 2, and would only serve to grow the number of supported TVs on the market.
Airplay 2 would allow iPhone, iPad, and MacOS users to stream video, audio, photos, and more directly to the screen of their Roku-connected TV, providing an instant upgrade that would likely have many ditching the dongles they previously used to connect to their TV screen.
There are many reasons why the often-reclusive technology company might want to share the Airplay 2 protocol with Roku and others, but perhaps the biggest is that Apple is looking to launch its own on-demand video-streaming service this year. Roku is a major player in the world of streaming devices, and cozying up to the company could be a great way to make sure that more viewers have easy access to its streaming service when it launches. Roku OS currently supports apps from virtually all major video streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Plex.
The move will also likely bring increased attention to Apple’s Homekit, which allows users of MacOS, iPhone, and iPad devices to control volume, playback, and more on the growing list of Homekit-enabled smart TVs.
AirPlay support is one of the biggest reasons many iPhone and iPad users choose Apple’s pricey Apple TV streaming box over much cheaper streaming devices from Roku and Amazon. With Roku devices supporting AirPlay 2 available at a fraction of the cost, Apple’s move to share its streaming technology may be a bad sign for the future of its fancy black streaming box.
There is still no word on when the official rollout of Airplay 2 may happen on Roku devices, but the news does leave a lot for Apple users to look forward to. After all, who doesn’t want better integration between their Apple devices and the other tech in their home?
Updated on March 11, 2019: Added information about the deal reportedly being finalized.
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