AirPort Extreme firmware hasnt been updated in years

Ipadlover29

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 28, 2011
829
213
The last time Apple has updated the firmware for the AirPort Extreme was about 2 years ago. Also the AirPort utility iOS app hasn't been updated since September of 2014. Do you think they will ever update these? The reason I ask is because I am thinking about purchasing an AirPort Extreme, but this holding me back.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,355
756
Is there a particular reason you would want the AE over some other maker's models? AEs work reasonably well but they are for what you get one of the more pricey options and they don't rank beyond middle of the pack in performance and feature set.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Weaselboy

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,711
10,496
California
You are correct that Apple does not pay much attention to the Airport devices. I'm with phrehdd... go with another brand like Asus or Netgear and you will get something that does have updated firmware and has more features and performance for less money.

Good article here on how to select a router. I agree with this conclusion from the article:

Our recommendation is to head on over to the Router Ranker, set the class type for AC1900 and choose away. AC1900 is the sweet spot right now for AC routers, providing the best combination of price and performance.
 

Gav2k

macrumors G3
Jul 24, 2009
9,216
1,606
In all fairness to apple the airports all work as advertised and they do throw out updates when a security issue arises
 

phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,355
756
In all fairness to apple the airports all work as advertised and they do throw out updates when a security issue arises
As I said, they work but there are better options out there for price and features. Apple makes nearly no effort to improve their routers, they over simplified their router computer front end software and remain with the infamous Apple tax pay to play.

I'll put this out here for you and others - I have gone by a few homes with AE's that were not quite problematic but still wanting in range and features. I brought along another router and did test set ups for them. Every single one saw improvement over the AE in range and speed of connection on 2.4 and 5 (including b, g, n and ac) respectively. Also saw a much needed interface to attached drives to the router. Yes, their AE's worked but while out of sight and out of mind is nice, ignorance is not bliss. (Incidentally, the router I used was a Netgear r7000 AC1900 but it could have been just as easily an Asus counterpart or a couple of other brands). Last - I did a few tests with an N router that was super cheap and also discontinued that matched the AE for the most part, had more features and even surprised me. - A Western Digital 900 (I think that was the series) router. This was the router I used to keep in my bag for emergencies (bought it for something like 80 dollars at the time but now remains with a friend who does gaming and wanted the 7 ports for himself and friends and WiFi for his other stuff).

Just a personal note - it saddens me that Apple has such strong appeal, and much of it well earned from years gone by and now they put out high cost "yesterday's news" products. Perhaps one day they get back to putting out superior products.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,711
10,496
California
In all fairness to apple the airports all work as advertised and they do throw out updates when a security issue arises
It is hard to say, since Apple doesn't really tell us what packages they are using on the router or what versions they use.

I do think there is reason for concern. For example, from this page we know Apple uses OpenSSL on their routers. If you look at this page of Asus RT-AC68P firmware updates (uses the same Broadcom chipset as Apple) you will see since the last Apple update, Asus has released four security updates to OpenSSL. So I suppose we are asked to assume in over two years now, Apple has not discovered one, single security issue on their routers that would merit an update?

I'm not trying to be confrontational, because I respect your opinions on the forums. I just think with the way Apple keeps us a bit in the dark as far as what is in their firmware, it is reason for concern they don't update more often.
 

Ipadlover29

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 28, 2011
829
213
Thanks guys for your input. Just to let you know I do own a netgear r7000 and I love it. But recently netgear messed up the firmware updates. They had to pull an update and havent updated it in months. I did try the Apple Airport Extreme and I really liked it. But, it just didnt have the speed and range my r7000 had. Im thinking about getting an Asus Rt-ac68u. I wish I could have the hardware of the r7000 and the software of the Airport Extreme. I loved how easy to use the apple router was, great support, build quality. Even though the ios airpot utility hasnt been updated in a while I found it much more useful and functional than the netgear one. I also like how you can use the ios airport utility app to scan wifi networks even if you dont own an apple router.
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
30,711
10,496
California
Im thinking about getting an Asus Rt-ac68u.
That's what I have and I'm pretty happy with it. I use the custom Merlin firmware on it that is based on the open source WRT packages and it is very stable and feature rich.

It does have a feature that will show you nearby wifi networks, if that is what you meant?

Screen_Shot_2016-05-20_at_1_09_40_PM.png


Here is everything I have running on it at the moment with no compatibility issues.

Screen_Shot_2016-05-20_at_1_12_09_PM.png
 

loby

macrumors 65816
Jul 1, 2010
1,031
693
Uh...they JUST updated the firmware on the Airport Extreme and Airport Express...

Me "thinks" someone has insiders information on this rant...

But I am happy they updated it. It works really well right now and faster..
 

LiveM

macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2015
1,170
554
Airport Utility should have update notification badges on the main icon. I only discovered the update because of this thread.
 

Le Big Mac

macrumors 68030
Jan 7, 2003
2,623
200
Washington, DC
Uh...they JUST updated the firmware on the Airport Extreme and Airport Express...

Me "thinks" someone has insiders information on this rant...

But I am happy they updated it. It works really well right now and faster..
No - Apple was reading this thread, and said "yeah, we ought to put out an update".
 

LiveM

macrumors 65816
Oct 30, 2015
1,170
554
Either that or they were holding back until someone made a thread about it.
 

Earl Urley

macrumors 6502a
Nov 10, 2014
500
213
Either that or they were holding back until someone made a thread about it.
All I know is last night I ran Airport Utility to see who had hooked up to my AEBS, as I'm paranoid, and saw a "1" in a red circle. Clicking it did nothing, so I went through the menus until I saw there was an actual update available.
 
  • Like
Reactions: LiveM

jscooper22

macrumors regular
Feb 8, 2013
248
606
Syracuse, NY
I bought three a year and a half ago and they were a nightmare. No way to turn off 5mhz; only way I could get it to work with any reliability at all was to put that bandwidth on a different SSID (which I couldn't hide). Also, wanted to use Radius to authenticate through OD and users repeatedly lost connections and got the "!" in their wifi icon until I rebooted the WAP. Finally just made it part of my morning routine to reboot them when I came in to keep them mostly running for the day.

Finally gave up and got two sophos WAPs. This was three month ago an so far so good.

If you ask me, Apple is spending so much energy on cars and making devices really really skinny that they're forgetting how to make the stuff inside be reliable.
 
  • Like
Reactions: phrehdd

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,042
337
.. London ..
I'm impressed the new 7.6.7 update showed up for my 1st Gen Time Capsule. The thing is seven or eight years old and still going strong, running daily Time Capsule for 2 Airs and a bit of NAS sharing, so it was nice to see it getting an update.

FYI OSX (el capitan) didn't inform me, and neither did Airport Utility. Only after going into the TC settings did the update show up. Install went smoothly.

Am considering getting a refurb Airport Time Capsule for a) a bigger HDD, b) longer range, c) ac wifi as most of our devices are now ac compatible. However I am reluctant to spend on buying 3 year old wifi hardware. Do you have any recommendations?
 

Ipadlover29

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
May 28, 2011
829
213
I'm impressed the new 7.6.7 update showed up for my 1st Gen Time Capsule. The thing is seven or eight years old and still going strong, running daily Time Capsule for 2 Airs and a bit of NAS sharing, so it was nice to see it getting an update.

FYI OSX (el capitan) didn't inform me, and neither did Airport Utility. Only after going into the TC settings did the update show up. Install went smoothly.

Am considering getting a refurb Airport Time Capsule for a) a bigger HDD, b) longer range, c) ac wifi as most of our devices are now ac compatible. However I am reluctant to spend on buying 3 year old wifi hardware. Do you have any recommendations?
You could get a refurbished time capsule they are cheaper. There are plenty of great routers on the market right now, but if you want time machine support its best to go with an apple router.
 

kiwipeso1

Suspended
Sep 17, 2001
646
167
Wellington, New Zealand
Thanks guys for your input. Just to let you know I do own a netgear r7000 and I love it. But recently netgear messed up the firmware updates. They had to pull an update and havent updated it in months. I did try the Apple Airport Extreme and I really liked it. But, it just didnt have the speed and range my r7000 had. Im thinking about getting an Asus Rt-ac68u. I wish I could have the hardware of the r7000 and the software of the Airport Extreme. I loved how easy to use the apple router was, great support, build quality. Even though the ios airpot utility hasnt been updated in a while I found it much more useful and functional than the netgear one. I also like how you can use the ios airport utility app to scan wifi networks even if you dont own an apple router.
I have the Asus RT -AC68U - very reliable router, I just leave it set up once, and forget all about altering it.
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,534
25,266
I have the Asus RT -AC68U - very reliable router, I just leave it set up once, and forget all about altering it.
Yeah I love the ASUS routers; feature rich, frequently updated, and reliable. Due to budget constraints I opted for the N900, but it still works well. Although I have gigabit Internet, I don't have any 802.11ac devices to suppose that kind of speed wirelessly, so this is fast enough.

Believe it or not, my ISP's router was a crummy single 2.4GHz band! Just by changing the router, wireless download/upload speeds went from 8MB/s up to 40MB/s, and 3 computers simultaneously seeding wirelessly without a problem at 20-30MB/s. Of course if money was no object, I'd be all over the ASUS RT-AC5300 ;)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Weaselboy

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,042
337
.. London ..
You could get a refurbished time capsule they are cheaper. There are plenty of great routers on the market right now, but if you want time machine support its best to go with an apple router.
I don't really want a previous generation TC. I can easily upgrade the HDD in my old TC myself, and I'd rather spend the money on something that finally supports all the AC grade devices that we now have in the house.

The two routers recommended here, the r7000 and AC68u, both look great. I do notice however that Amazon lists them both as dating from 2013/14. So it seems they are of the same vintage as the current Airport Time Capsule. Hopefully some wave 2 AC routers will start getting cheaper soon.

EDIT: Macrumors is now reporting that Apple is withdrawing Airport gear from their stores. They're either updating the range or dropping it entirely...

https://www.macrumors.com/2016/05/27/airport-out-of-stock-us-apple-stores/

Here's my wishlist:

- SSD drive cache to make Time Machine backups go faster. 4GB or 8GB, either one, I don't mind. 8GB of SSD costs pennies nowadays. Just get that backup done, get off my wifi, then transfer it to the multi-TB drive later. Apple has the Fusion tech to make it happen.

- iCloud caching. I want my photos and stuff available to my local mac stuff. I don't want to wait for my photos or videos to download before looking through them. (Apple will probably never implement this)

- iOS backups. The current system of only letting iOS backup to a local Mac is crazy now that many home Macs only have 128GB SSDS, sometimes 256GB. That's laughable considering that iPhones and iPads now have up to 256GB storage. How do I back up a 256GB iPad to a 128GB Macbook Air? I'm currently using an external HDD which is crazy considering that sitting 2 feet away from me is a Time Capsule with a vast HDD in it sitting unused and ready for action.

- USB 3 ports. I back up my Time Capsule to (another) external HDD. At USB2 speeds, a multi-TB HDD can take several days to back up which is crazy. There was a rumour that USB3 was left off because it can interfere with AC wifi. However, that seems a solved problem, given the flood of AC routers with USB3 ports.

- Wave 2 802.11ac, with active antennae to boost upstream reception from mobile clients with poor transmit power. This will really help out with FaceTime and other live video upload clients (Skype etc). Wave 2 also has MU-MIMO which helps with multiple high-bandwidth users (eg multiple Netflix streams). Wave 2 routers started coming out last year so it's time for Apple to incorporate this.

- Maybe incorporate Apple TV into the new Time Capsule? All the gubbins are there, it shouldn't take much extra.

Hell, probably none of this will happen. Apple may even be discontinuing the Time Capsule - it seems dead nowadays. Clearly more profitable for Apple to ask tell us all to back up Time Machine to iCloud and charge us monthly for the privilege.
 
Last edited:
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.