Apple’s AirPlay 2 is the sequel to its original wireless audio streaming protocol, which adds multi-room synchronized streaming support, integration with HomeKit, Apple’s smart home control platform, and third-party app support. The AirPlay 2 feature will also let anyone on your Wi-Fi jump in and contribute to collaborative party playlists on the fly.
AirPlay 2’s public API means anyone making an app can also tap into the streaming fun, letting their own apps broadcast to multiroom speakers. Apple revealed a long list of hardware partners on the speaker side, too, meaning you should have no shortage of accessory choices. AirPlay 2 will also work with fourth generation Apple TV hardware, so that you can integrate your home theater system into the mix right away.
Multi-room audio is something that Sonos has done for a while, but it requires that apps support its own software and be controlled by its app. This could open up system-level iOS support, which would be amazing for stuff like YouTube, podcasts and more. It’s also table stakes with Google Cast, which Google offers as a system level feature on Android. That’s likely to preface a Siri speaker announcement, since it’s a key feature for Google Home, too.