Apple whole home audio solution - where is it?

Macwick

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 9, 2008
274
229
I went all in on AirPlay. I have multiple iHome AirPlay speakers around the house, along with Apple TVs and Airport Extremes that extend my AirPlay capabilities both inside and in the backyard of my home.

In hindsight, I should have invested in Sonos equipment. But a couple of years ago Apple seemed to be getting into the home audio game. There was the initial slew of AirPlay speakers. The Remote app for controlling iTunes, and AirPlay capability on iOS. It seemed like they were building an ecosystem.

But the solution is still fragmented and incomplete, and Apple now appears to be letting AirPlay die off. Some examples:
  • As far as I can tell, there are no new AirPlay speakers being developed/released.
  • The iTunes Remote app hasn't been updated in years. As a result, you can't use this remote to play Apple Music tracks or Apple Radio.
  • It's *still* not possible to AirPlay from iOS devices to multiple AirPlay destinations.
My dream solution is really not that complicated - let us use the Music app on iOS devices to stream music to multiple AirPlay destinations. Behind the scenes, I really don't care whether the music is streamed directly from the iOS device or is streamed from iTunes running on a computer in the house - just let me use one interface for navigating and playing my music. Oh, and add Siri support for this as well. I can already say 'play playlist Dance Party'. Why can't I also say 'play playlist Dance Party on the backyard speakers'?

Why has Apple stopped just short of making this a reality? My only explanation is that most people don't have this use case - they didn't invest heavily in the AirPlay ecosystem.

What do you think? Any chance they will close these gaps in the future?
 

M. Gustave

macrumors 68000
Jun 6, 2015
1,857
1,689
Grand Budapest Hotel
Apple generally caters to the mainstream use case. Most people I know listen to music via a single Bluetooth speaker. I'm a recovered audiofool myself, and I'm now down to a single Sony SRS-X3. It's great!

It sounds like you have the money and drive to use a custom audio solution. Or you could even sell your existing equipment off, and buy that Sonos system, no?
 

Uofmtiger

macrumors 68020
Dec 11, 2010
2,041
741
Memphis
I went all in on AirPlay. I have multiple iHome AirPlay speakers around the house, along with Apple TVs and Airport Extremes that extend my AirPlay capabilities both inside and in the backyard of my home.

In hindsight, I should have invested in Sonos equipment. But a couple of years ago Apple seemed to be getting into the home audio game. There was the initial slew of AirPlay speakers. The Remote app for controlling iTunes, and AirPlay capability on iOS. It seemed like they were building an ecosystem.

But the solution is still fragmented and incomplete, and Apple now appears to be letting AirPlay die off. Some examples:
  • As far as I can tell, there are no new AirPlay speakers being developed/released.
  • The iTunes Remote app hasn't been updated in years. As a result, you can't use this remote to play Apple Music tracks or Apple Radio.
  • It's *still* not possible to AirPlay from iOS devices to multiple AirPlay destinations.
My dream solution is really not that complicated - let us use the Music app on iOS devices to stream music to multiple AirPlay destinations. Behind the scenes, I really don't care whether the music is streamed directly from the iOS device or is streamed from iTunes running on a computer in the house - just let me use one interface for navigating and playing my music. Oh, and add Siri support for this as well. I can already say 'play playlist Dance Party'. Why can't I also say 'play playlist Dance Party on the backyard speakers'?

Why has Apple stopped just short of making this a reality? My only explanation is that most people don't have this use case - they didn't invest heavily in the AirPlay ecosystem.

What do you think? Any chance they will close these gaps in the future?
I agree with a lot of what you said, so I don't disagree with your complaints at all.

However, the last time I checked (which admittedly has been a while) you could play Apple Music via the computer using the Remote app if you saved the Apple Music album to your library first. Not ideal, but it at least gets you some of the way there.

Also, you can get around the issue by using Airfoil and Airfoil Speakers. Airfoil Speakers is an app you run on a Mac or PC that will make the computer show up as an Airplay receiving device alongside your AppleTV/Airport Express/ Etc. You simply pick it as your Airplay receiving device on iOS and the sound goes to your Mac.

Airfoil (not "Speakers") is a separate app and it sends any audio from your computer to any or all Airplay devices. Therefore, you can steal the audio from "Airfoil Speakers" and send it out via "Airfoil". Airfoil also sees Bluetooth and Chromecast devices, so it is a very versatile, though not free, program. The program also has an iOS app that allows you to control which Airplay Speakers or zones you want to use and it will even allow your iPhone to become an Airplay Speaker.

Personally, I have very little need for multi-room Airplay, but the Airfoil program is a decent workaround. You also have WHAALE that will send to multiple rooms from iOS, but it is limited to certain music programs (Deezer, internet radio, etc).

I also don't think Airplay is going anywhere right now (though Apple is known for abruptly ending support for past technologies, so it is a risk with anything Apple makes). Airplay is built into the AppleTV and it is one advantage they have over the competition. While you don't see as many Airplay Speakers, you do see most modern, mainstream receivers including Airplay alongside Bluetooth.
 
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Macwick

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 9, 2008
274
229
My iTunes Remote app was updated in September of 2016.
Sorry, I meant *meaningful* feature updates. I believe this last update was just to remove ATV control from the Remote app.
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It sounds like you have the money and drive to use a custom audio solution. Or you could even sell your existing equipment off, and buy that Sonos system, no?
I suppose so. I would need to replace my three $99 Airport Expresses with $350 Sonos Connect systems, and my two iHome speakers with $200 Play:1 speakers. So all in that would be ~$1,500 - when all I really need is a few small software updates from Apple.

Also, Sonos won't allow me to use my 4 TVs as music speakers (via Apple TV).
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However, the last time I checked (which admittedly has been a while) you could play Apple Music via the computer using the Remote app if you saved the Apple Music album to your library first. Not ideal, but it at least gets you some of the way there.
Yep, this does work, but very clunky, as you can't navigate the entire Apple Music library. You also can't access 'For You', Apple Radio, etc.
 

Uofmtiger

macrumors 68020
Dec 11, 2010
2,041
741
Memphis
Like I said, look into Airfoil. The benefit of being able to use iOS for the sending device is that you can pick up where you left off when leaving the house and you can use apps created by the music service, unlike Sonos. It is a bit clunkier than Sonos since you need a computer in the mix, but the other payoff is being able to use it with apps not supported by Sonos...not to mention cost.

You can set up zones or control each "speaker" individually fromthe "Airfoil satellite" app.
 

Macwick

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 9, 2008
274
229
Like I said, look into Airfoil. The benefit of being able to use iOS for the sending device is that you can pick up where you left off when leaving the house and you can use apps created by the music service, unlike Sonos. It is a bit clunkier than Sonos since you need a computer in the mix, but the other payoff is being able to use it with apps not supported by Sonos...not to mention cost.

You can set up zones or control each "speaker" individually fromthe "Airfoil satellite" app.
Thanks I will definitely check out Airfoil.
 

boston04and07

macrumors 68000
May 13, 2008
1,527
460
I completely agree with you @Macwick. I too think we're long overdue for some updates and improvements in this area. There are two main improvements I'd like to see.

The first is the ability to output music to multiple AirPlay/Bluetooth speakers at the same time from iOS. My main devices are all iOS now and it's a pain in the arse that we can't do that natively. Since Bluetooth and AirPlay audio sources all show up in the same audio output menu in control center, and since many of us now have a mix of Bluetooth and AirPlay, being able to mix and match in that regard would be ideal.

Second, I'd like some type of universal Now Playing option, or at least the ability to see and control what's playing on another device. One thing I do a lot is start an audio stream playing on my speakers from one of my iOS devices and then moving to another device and needing to pause it or skip a track or whatever. For example I'll start some music playing on my bedroom speakers from my iPad Pro but might then need to stop it once I've moved to using my iPad mini in the kitchen or whatever. Having the ability to do that would be crucial for me.

I do think Apple takes music very seriously right now, what with it paying so much to acquire Beats, but I wish they'd put some thought into these missing features as they grow more and more obvious each year.

Somewhat unrelated but while I'm sorta on the topic, just wanna throw out there that I wish the Beats Pill would get the W1 chip with its next revision. It's the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker for my needs but now that I've been spoiled with all the W1 goodies with my Solo 3's, I'm really missing them on the Pill.
 

Macwick

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Dec 9, 2008
274
229
I completely agree with you @Macwick. I too think we're long overdue for some updates and improvements in this area. There are two main improvements I'd like to see.

The first is the ability to output music to multiple AirPlay/Bluetooth speakers at the same time from iOS. My main devices are all iOS now and it's a pain in the arse that we can't do that natively. Since Bluetooth and AirPlay audio sources all show up in the same audio output menu in control center, and since many of us now have a mix of Bluetooth and AirPlay, being able to mix and match in that regard would be ideal.

Second, I'd like some type of universal Now Playing option, or at least the ability to see and control what's playing on another device. One thing I do a lot is start an audio stream playing on my speakers from one of my iOS devices and then moving to another device and needing to pause it or skip a track or whatever. For example I'll start some music playing on my bedroom speakers from my iPad Pro but might then need to stop it once I've moved to using my iPad mini in the kitchen or whatever. Having the ability to do that would be crucial for me.

I do think Apple takes music very seriously right now, what with it paying so much to acquire Beats, but I wish they'd put some thought into these missing features as they grow more and more obvious each year.

Somewhat unrelated but while I'm sorta on the topic, just wanna throw out there that I wish the Beats Pill would get the W1 chip with its next revision. It's the perfect portable Bluetooth speaker for my needs but now that I've been spoiled with all the W1 goodies with my Solo 3's, I'm really missing them on the Pill.
My hope at this point is that they are working on an Alexa/Google Home competitor that will also incorporate voice-controlled home audio. Ideally you could stream music to these new devices/speakers *and* to any AirPlay target in the house.
 

Uofmtiger

macrumors 68020
Dec 11, 2010
2,041
741
Memphis
My hope at this point is that they are working on an Alexa/Google Home competitor that will also incorporate voice-controlled home audio. Ideally you could stream music to these new devices/speakers *and* to any AirPlay target in the house.
That is my hope, as well. I would even live with having that ability with Siri on the iPhone/watch.
 

jaknudsen

macrumors member
Jan 25, 2005
96
8
Oslo, Norway
My hope at this point is that they are working on an Alexa/Google Home competitor that will also incorporate voice-controlled home audio. Ideally you could stream music to these new devices/speakers *and* to any AirPlay target in the house.
Apparently you're right about the new product. Fingers crossed for streaming to multiple devices from iOS!