The AirPort Express WiFi access point, now discontinued by Apple, got a surprising update yesterday. A new firmware version for the device has brought AirPlay 2 support as well as support for Apple HomeKit. The new firmware is version 7.8 for those keeping score at home and it is available now through the AirPort Utility app for iOS and MacOS.
For those that may not recall, AirPlay 2 is an update to the now eight year old AirPlay protocol which will bring the ability to link speakers (think HomePod) as well as more manageability for iPhone and iPad users. AirPlay 2 was suppose to launch with the HomePod last year but didn’t make the cut.
Once you have your firmware updated on your AirPort Express, you will be able to add it to Apple Home as an accessory. You will have to go through the process without a code but it should show up as an available accessory on your network. Once it does, you can configure it which will then allow you to use it as a hub for a speaker for a device you have connected through the AUX line in the back of the AirPort Express.
The update to the access point is a bit of a surprise given that Apple has discontinued them and, as a general rule, don’t made post-demise update to devices. But, given the number of AirPort Express units out there and the advancements that AirPlay 2 brings, it is good to see Apple throw out this update.