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AirPlay 2 has been out for a few weeks now after shipping a week before WWDC 2023 and almost a year after it was previewed at WWDC 2023.
In the places where AirPlay 2 works, the audio streaming feature is a notable upgrade over the original AirPlay feature — but there are also weird choices and clear opportunities for AirPlay 2 now that it’s available.HomePod stereo pairing
HomePod audio is really good with stereo pairing — and it should be when the speaker price jumps from $350 to $700.
A single HomePod excels at not limiting a sonic sweet spot to just one place in a room since sound is delivered from all sides of the speaker. But if you close your eyes, you can probably identify where in the room the HomePod is located based on sound.
With a stereo setup, the HomePod pair does a great job of filling the room with sound in such a way that makes you think the two HomePods are actually one stereo speaker coming from the center of the two units.
But stereo output is intentionally reserved for music and podcast playback and not all audio output. For example, Siri only responds on a single HomePod, not both in sync.
The HomePod in the stereo pair that responds is also the HomePod that lights up when you say “Hey Siri” — also by design — but I think this is the wrong decision. In a smaller stereo setup, there aren’t really any practical issues with this, but it can be problematic in a wider arrangement.
In my living room, for example, I’ve noticed the further away speaker light up and respond and not the closer speaker. Siri seems to favor the speaker that you last physically touched. That’s clever, but I’d prefer both light up and respond in stereo.
Phone calls are also limited to one HomePod in stereo. My guess is that this is because only one HomePod uses its microphones for the phone call, but I would prefer both speakers to always play audio in stereo when paired.
Breaking the illusion of one stereo pair when a single speaker reacts can be disorienting.Apple TV as AirPlay 2 speakers
Controlling audio playback AirPlay 2 speakers from Siri on the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or HomePod is really useful. Turning any Apple TV 4 or Apple TV 4K into an AirPlay 2 speaker is also great for building out your multi-room playback potential.
But once you have dedicated AirPlay 2 speakers throughout your home, Apple TV speakers as AirPlay 2 targets can get in the way. I wouldn’t mind an option to hide Apple TVs from AirPlay 2.
The problem has two parts.
First, TV speakers are often optimized for movie playback and not music playback. Many speakers let you switch equalization modes, but this isn’t an automatic change based on what is playing. I’ve found that music sounds way better through a HomePod stereo pair than my TV’s more expensive sound bar, and movies sound better through the sound bar than the HomePods.
Second is volume control. HomePod volume ranges 0 through 100. Simple as that. But Apple TV speakers have their own independent volume levels, then the AirPlay 2 source also has a separate volume slider.
For example, my sound bar volume ranges 0 through 40. We keep it around 10-20, but 50% on the source slider is half what we expect to hear. The solution is to turn the sound bar all the way up for AirPlay 2, then manage the AirPlay 2 source volume slider.
If given the option, I would probably choose to hide Apple TV from AirPlay 2 through Siri and the Now Playing Control Center tiles. I love multi-room audio playback between multiple HomePods and I look forward to adding other AirPlay 2 speakers in the future, but Apple TVs frankly just pollute the experience for me right now.macOS support is limited
The last AirPlay 2 challenge that I’ve faced is limited support on macOS and no support on watchOS. You can’t tell Siri on Mac or Apple Watch to play music on a speaker in a specific room like you can on iOS, HomePod, and tvOS. Maybe in a future release, but not yet (even in beta).
Limited macOS support is especially frustrating. You’ve long been able to target multiple AirPlay speakers from iTunes exclusively, and AirPlay 2 allows you to target multiple speakers (including stereo HomePod pairs) from any app on iOS.
Using ‘Switch to:’ from iTunes lets you remotely control music playback on the AirPlay 2 speaker versus sending it from iTunes to the speaker. This section is also the only area that will let you do see a stereo pair of HomePods as one unit. (And it only works with music, not podcasts.) This could be easier to understand…
Outside of iTunes, macOS doesn’t recognize paired HomePods as one stereo unit. System audio will see a paired HomePod setup as two individual targets so there’s no built-in way to make a left + right HomePod arrangement serve as your computer speakers.
Proper AirPlay 2 support from macOS is needed.
Apple nailed the fundamentals of AirPlay 2. Latency is dramatically reduced by design, multi-room AirPlay from any source on iOS is super welcome, and Siri control is really approachable. Now that the basics are finished and available, I hope we see some of the rough edges polished in the coming months.
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One oddity is that you have to assign the left and right channels manually. Given that most people will, I imagine, orientate the speakers so that the volume controls are the right way up, I would have thought a pair of HomePods ought to be able to figure out the channels for themselves. Play a sound through one speaker and then use the directional mics on the other one to figure out whether the sound is coming from the left or right.
It’s a minor quibble, given that it takes seconds to assign them manually, but it slightly offended my sense of technological efficiency that they required me to do it.
Some supported the idea, and agreed with me that it should work for a typical setup.
Others argued that it wouldn’t in some scenarios, either describing their own particular room layout or a hypothetical one they could imagine some might have.
Yet others didn’t seem to follow my reasoning, so I thought I’d write a short piece outlining how I would see it working.
First of all, I am making an assumption: that most people are going to orientate the speakers so that the volume controls on the top panel are positioned normally. That is, volume down on the left, volume up on the right. This also has the cable emerging from the rear of the speaker, which is how I’d expect most people to arrange them.
If you prefer your cable off to the side, or want a vertical volume arrangement, than yep, the idea falls over there.
Those of you who observed that it wouldn’t be possible in all room configurations are absolutely correct. I can think of a couple of room layouts where HomePod would have no way of telling which was left and which was right, as it would depend where you were sitting.Where it wouldn’t work
Let’s start with room configurations where automatic set up wouldn’t work:
In both examples, HomePod would have no way of knowing whether your sofa was positioned in the primary or secondary positions shown, and therefore no way to assign left or right channels.Where it would work
However, my guess is that most rooms are configured more like this:
HomePod can already tell how close it is to a wall, as its beamforming technology uses this information as part of its automatic set up process. Here’s how Apple describes the process:
Place HomePod anywhere in the room. It automatically analyzes the acoustics, adjusts the sound based on the speaker’s location, and separates the music into direct and ambient sound. Direct sound is beamed to the middle of the room, while ambient sound is diffused into left and right channels and bounced off the wall. So your music sounds amazing, wherever you are in the room.
And here’s the illustration it uses, clearly showing that HomePod is able to detect the wall:How it would work
So, here’s how I see it working in this room layout:
HomePod does its usual auto set up and figures out that both speakers have a wall behind them, and therefore the listeners are on the other side of the room. One speaker can detect a wall close to the left, so guesses it is the left speaker. The other speaker can detect a wall close to the right, so guesses it is the right speaker.
To confirm, speaker 1 – which believes it is the left speaker – plays a sound. If speaker 2 hears speaker 1 from the left, then HomePod’s guess is correct and speaker 2 configures itself as the right channel.
If it gets contradictory results, or detects some room configuration where it’s impossible to tell where the listeners are, then it reverts to manual configuration (which is actually a guess with a 50/50 chance of being right).
The beauty of this is it would be completely transparent to the user. What happens right now, is HomePod already guesses and asks you to correct it if it’s wrong. Which will be half the time. With my suggestion, nothing changes for the user – except it would usually be right.Does any of this matter?
Well, ok, not much. It’s such a simple process to tap the button to correct the guess that it isn’t exactly a big deal whether HomePod was right or wrong.
But Apple has often said that design – and user interface design in particular – is in the detail. Having a high chance that HomePod configures itself correctly is, I suggest, better than a 50/50 chance. It’s one of those small details which I think helps add up to a great user experience.
Plus, you know, I’m a geek: if something can be automated, it should be automated.
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AirPlay on Apple devices lets you stream songs and videos to other AirPlay-compatible speakers and TV. But here’s the less-known fact: you can also use AirPlay on your Apple Watch.
Your Apple Watch has an AirPlay audio icon in its Control Center (accessed by swiping up from the watch screen’s bottom). This makes it possible to choose which device you want to play music from. Here’s how to use AirPlay on your Apple Watch.
Understand what AirPlay on Apple Watch is and its limitations
Background: The tiny speaker on your Apple Watch gives Siri answers, system feedback, etc. But it cannot use this speaker to play music. Thus, you always have to connect your Apple Watch to a compatible device like AirPods, AirPods Max, Beats headphones, third-party Bluetooth headphones, speakers, or Apple TV.
This may also make you think that you can AirPlay directly from your watch to other AirPlay devices. But you must understand that it’s just a button to choose audio output to the limited devices mentioned above. You can’t use this to connect to AirPlay Speakers, etc.
You’re limited to Bluetooth devices. This fact can be confirmed when you tap the watch’s AirPlay icon from Control Center → tap Connect a Device → it opens the Bluetooth pairing screen of the watch Settings.
Apple Insider says that AirPlay is limited on the watch to preserve battery life. I couldn’t agree more.
One more thing: You cannot stream (AirPlay) songs directly from your Apple Watch to HomePod. But if the HomePod is playing songs via, say, iPhone, you can control it using your Apple Watch.
Conclusion: AirPlay on Apple Watch is limited in functionality. It is a “select Bluetooth output device” button.
Now that you understand the crux, here’s how to use that Apple Watch AirPlay icon to select or change the audio output from your wrist.
How to use AirPlay in WatchOS
Press the Digital Crown and tap Music.
Scenario 1: If no Bluetooth devices are connected, you’ll see a screen that says “Choose where to play audio.” Tap on a device name. (left image below)
To change the sound output from your wrist, tap the AirPlay icon at the bottom left.
You can do the same process from the watch Control Center.
If music is playing from your Apple Watch, you may not see HomePod as one of the options in AirPlay. But if music is playing on the iPhone, and you’re controlling it with your Apple Watch, you may see the option for HomePod. (see the steps and image below)How to use AirPlay icon to choose devices connected to iPhone
Open Music on your watch.
Tap On iPhone.
Control HomePod using Apple Watch
Open Now Playing on your Apple Watch.
If you see Watch or iPhone at the top left, tap < to go back.
Scroll to choose HomePod from the Now Playing screen.
Note: Make sure your HomePod, iPhone, and Apple Watch are all connected to the same Wi-Fi.
Enjoy AirPlaying audio content on your Apple Watch!
This is how you can use the AirPlay icon on your Apple Watch. I hope this guide helps answer your questions.
Marcus is a freelance tech writer/editor with a focus on succinctly explaining consumer devices and their software. His previous work has been published on MakeUseOf where he covered everything from iOS to Git and UI design.
Apple TV Plus
Apple TV Plus has quickly become a major player in the streaming game since its launch in 2023. Its slate of original programming includes shows like Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Foundation, and For All Mankind as well as movies like The Banker, Greyhound, and Palmer.
See price at Apple TV Plus
Where we left off
Apple TV Plus
Inspired by Brian Stelter’s Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, the first season of The Morning Show premiered in the thick of the #MeToo movement in 2023. As a result, the series tackled workplace sexual misconduct head on.
When popular morning television host Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) faces accusations of sexual misconduct, his co-host Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) scrambles to keep afloat. How deep do Mitch’s misdeeds go? How can she re-establish trust in a toxic workplace? Is her own position safe? Who will co-host with her now that Mitch is suspended?
What is The Morning Show season 2 about?
Season two covers sexual misconduct as well as race in media and COVID-19.
While season one certainly addressed race, The Morning Show season two appears to focus as much on the question of white hosts as the first season did on gender inequality and abuse in the workplace. The Morning Show’s Daniel Hendersen (Desean Terry) is seen in the trailer calling out UBA for its systemic racism as he continues to be passed up for a promotion.
And in keeping with the show’s focus on current events, season two will also address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, though it’s unclear exactly how.
When and where can you watch it?
Apple TV Plus
The Morning Show season 2 will launch September 17.
The series will be available exclusively on Apple TV Plus.
COVID-19 delays are at the center of a lawsuit with The Morning Show’s insurance company.
Filming delays on The Morning Show season two have in fact become the subject of a lawsuit. Always Smiling Productions has filed suit against Chubb National Insurance Company. The suit claims that while Chubb has paid out $1 million due to the government-mandated shutdown, the company still owes over $100 million in cast coverage — the series’ big names come with hefty paycheques.
Other Apple TV Plus series affected by the production shutdown include See, Foundation, Servant, For All Mankind, Lisey’s Story, and Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet.
What else can you expect?
Apple TV Plus
Apple hasn’t revealed much about The Morning Show season two. The official season trailer does, however, reveal a fair bit. And it also leaves a lot of questions open.
Here are a few hints and open questions from the trailer:
Where is Mitch? He seems to be hiding out somewhere gorgeous and scenic. Is he stranded somewhere because of COVID-19? Is he hiding out to avoid media inquiries following his fall from grace?
Why has Alex left UBA? When we last saw her, Alex was standing up to the culture of abuse that allowed Mitch to thrive in the first place. She and Bradley took a stand on air before being cut off. Did she quit? If she was fired, why wasn’t Bradley? Getting more information about Alex’s departure will help add some much-needed context to Cory’s attempts to win her back.
Who is Julianna Margulies playing? The ER and The Good Wife actress appears to be an exec from a rival show. She’s encouraging Bradley to stand up for herself and demand more. But what are her motives exactly, and why doesn’t Alex like her?
What is Cory up to? The UBA exec seems to have a gift for picking fights with the top brass, and now he’s fighting “a battle for the soul of the universe.” What could that be about?
That’s everything we know, and a few things we don’t, about The Morning Show season two. You can check it out on Apple TV Plus September 17.
After images and details leaked about Sonos’ first portable speaker with Bluetooth last month, Sonos ‘Move’ has been officially unveiled and made available for preorder. Move comes with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and AirPlay 2 support along with a 10-hour battery and durable design. Alongside the Sonos Move, the company has also launched the Sonos One SL speaker and Sonos Port, a successor to the Sonos Connect.
Sonos announced the news in a press release today after holding a media event in NYC last week. The headlining product is the company’s first portable Bluetooth speaker, the Sonos Move.
Today, Sonos (Nasdaq: SONO) introduced Sonos Move, a product that marks the company’s first step outside the home. Building on years of innovation in home audio to unlock the potential for great sound anywhere, Move is a powerful, versatile smart speaker that sounds incredible indoors, outdoors, and on the go.
Sonos Move is larger than many portable speakers and is designed more to be moved in, around, and outside your home rather than to be taken on the go. It measures in at 10-inches tall and weighs a solid six pounds. As noted by The Verge, it’s notably larger than the Sonos One and puts out more volume than its smaller non-portable sibling.
Image via The Verge
Sonos Move features an IP56 dust and water-resistance rating and the company says it can “withstand falls, bumps, rain and moisture, dust and dirt, UV and extreme temperatures.”
The speaker comes with a slim charging base that fills up the 10-hour rated battery for wireless playback. It can also be charged up via USB-C when away from the included charging base. Sonos Move is said to seamlessly switch between using your home’s Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth 4.2. A press of a button on the back of the speaker will remember the last device connected over Bluetooth.
Like the rest of the Sonos lineup, the Move features the company’s Trueplay tuning technology. However, Sonos has introduced an automatic Trueplay experience to offer the best sound for Move wherever you’re using it.
For voice commands, Alexa and Google Assistant support is built-in, while AirPlay 2 functionality means Apple users can control music with Siri and more.
Sonos Move comes just in the black colorway and is available for preorder now priced at $399 and will be shipping on September 24th.Sonos Port
Sonos also announced a replacement for its Sonos Connect product. Sonos Port offers the ability to use your existing powered stereo or receiver with the Sonos ecosystem. It includes audio in and audio out RCA ports, digital audio out port, two Ethernet ports, a 12V trigger to automatically turn on your stereo or receiver in a compact black design that mirrors the aesthetic of the Sonos Amp.
Sonos Port is an easy way to bring AirPlay 2 to your traditional audio setup and comes in at a more affordable price point of $399 than the Sonos Amp that goes for $599. Sonos Port is available now for preorder and will be shipping on September 12th.Sonos One SL
The new Sonos One SL arrives as a replacement to the Sonos Play:1. As the name suggests it shares the same design as the Sonos One with a cleaner aesthetic and touch controls on top but leaves out the built-in microphones.
Further reinforcing Sonos’ commitment to choice, One SL delivers rich, room-filling sound like Sonos One, without built-in microphones. A smart speaker without integrated voice assistants, One SL is a full member of the Sonos sound system to listen to more than 100 streaming services controlled with the Sonos App, Apple AirPlay2, music service apps and more.
The Sonos One SL is available now for preorder at $179 and begins arriving to customers on September 12th.
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Furthermore, while you can play a few web browser games on Apple TV, I’ve curated the list based purely on games available on the official App Store. Without further ado, let’s dive into the list!
1. Evoland 2 – Editor’s choice
Evoland 2 is a gamer’s paradise – there’s no question about it. Think of it as a tribute to all the classic games you’ve played before. In fact, there are so many parts to explore about the game that you’re sure to take over 20 hours to complete the game in its entirety.
Unfortunately, the control scheme of the game isn’t very friendly to beginners.
2. Crossy Road – For wholesome family fun
I’m sure you’ve either heard of or played Crossy Road earlier. This game is one of the best casual and family-friendly games out there. In addition, it’s also one of the best Apple TV games.
The larger screen on the Apple TV also makes the game feel bigger in size and perspective. You can now see more of the in-game screen and have a better view of the oncoming cars. That doesn’t mean that your job of crossing the road gets any easier though.
Keep progressing through the game to unlock more difficult challenges and unique characters. It’s an absurd world in Crossy Road, and you’re going to love it!
However, the game’s pace in the later stages can be quite difficult.
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $0.99)
3. PAC-MAN 256 – Takes you back to the 1980s
We all know how influential PAC-MAN has been in the world of gaming. It was and still is the quintessential arcade game for plenty of gamers. With PAC-MAN 256, you get an endless arcade game that caters to the whims of the modern era.
This time, things are slightly different. PAC-MAN has over 15 different powers that you can gain and use against the pesky Ghosts. Moreover, if you can attain a combo of 256 in-game, you’re going to receive a special prize.
On a side note, you know that a game is going to be good if it’s been developed by the creators of the amazing Crossy Road!
The grinding mechanics in the game for attaining rewards needs to be reworked, however. It takes far too long to receive an appropriate number of coins.
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $0.99)
4. Just Dance Now – For all the social people
If you’re at a party and want to grab everyone’s attention, what better way than to start dancing and moving to the beats? With Just Dance Now, you can turn the groove and the beats into a game where everyone can join in.
The game features over 500 songs and choreographies for you to go through. This includes classics like 24K Magic by Bruno Mars and Bad Liar by Selena Gomez, among others. The best part? There’s no limit to the number of people who can join in. Whether it’s 10 people or 100, everyone can join. Finally, if you need your dance playlist to make a mark, you can create that too!
Unfortunately, the coin system in the game is quite flawed and complex for a game of this nature.
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $2.99)
5. Alto’s Adventure – Takes you to zen mode
There are very few visually appealing games that combine all of their elements and take you on a relaxing journey. Alto’s Adventure is one of them.
The game can be deceptively difficult at times. However, your snowboarding journey across hundreds of mountains will be filled with intrigue and relaxation.
Some people have complained about the wingsuit mechanics of the game, though.
6. Riptide GP: Renegade – A unique take on racing games
With Riptide GP: Renegade, all your previous notions on racing games are thrown out the window! Racing games are usually of two types. Firstly, you get the arcade racing games that don’t care much for simulation elements. Secondly, there are simulation racing games whose charm lies in the depth of gameplay.
This game features hydrojet racing, where you and your friends battle it out on watery tracks, jumping over waterfalls and performing stunts. It has a good story too, with your character vying for redemption as they’re kicked out of the Riptide GP League.
It has some serious levels of customizations for both player and the hydrojet, allowing you to put your spin on the game. Moreover, the online component of the game is also worth a try.
The game’s graphics look a bit dated by today’s standards.
7. Modern Combat 5: Blackout – For fans of brutal shooting games
The Modern Combat series has been one of the very best, in terms of mobile shooting games. However, with Modern Combat 5: Blackout on the larger screen of the Apple TV, you have an AAA-level shooter on your hands.
This game has something for everyone, from a meaty single-player campaign that features an intense story and fast-paced action to a battle royale and other multiplayer modes. Moreover, there are over 11 classes for you to choose and customize from, leading to a truly personal touch on the gameplay.
In addition, there are limited-time events that provide excellent rewards if you can succeed in completing the challenges. Overall, as a shooting game on the Apple TV, you can’t go wrong with this game.
That said, the energy bar mechanics of the game needs to be reworked though. It runs out far too fast.
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $1.99)
8. Spaceteam – Hilarious co-op game
If you’re looking for Apple TV multiplayer games, I doubt that it’ll get any better than Spaceteam. This isn’t your usual co-op game.
Firstly, most of the commands in the game are satirical and sound absurd. Secondly, when your panel is filled with random buttons, and you have to coordinate with your friends to push the buttons at the right time, you’ll realize how random the situation can be!
Moreover, the instructions are time-sensitive. This adds a level of challenge to the game as well. The only issue with the game is that it tends to crash.
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $2.99)
9. Real Racing 3 – A racing simulator for enthusiasts
Real Racing 3 is the type of game you want if you’re looking for a racing game that provides a challenge. The game features a high level of simulation that you’ll be hard-pressed to find in most mobile games.
In addition, there are different race modes, including Formula 1 racing. You can select from a range of real cars from manufacturers like Audi and Bugatti. Furthermore, the visuals are simply excellent. When you boot up this game on Apple TV, you can see how gorgeous the game truly looks.
The multiplayer modes are something to look out for as well. You can race with up to 8 players worldwide, in cross-platform, without any hassle.
The only issue with the game is that it has plenty of microtransactions.
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $1.99)
If you haven’t played INSIDE yet, you should get on it right away. This game is a beautiful, haunting journey into the depths of human consciousness and society.
The game combines elements of puzzles with platforming into an aesthetic that will catch you off guard. Regardless, you’ll get hooked on it almost instantaneously. There are plenty of metaphors to decipher in this game, from that of human nature to the socioeconomic status prevalent today.
If you want a game that will hook you in with its premise and keep your interest through puzzles, metaphors, and analogies, try INSIDE.
Unfortunately, the game’s campaign is quite short. Many players, myself included, would’ve liked a longer solo campaign.
Price: Free (In-app purchases start at $6.99)
Wrapping it up!
With Apple TV presenting greater gaming opportunities through Apple Arcade, I’m pretty sure there are better games on their way for consumers. So, what did you think of my list of the best Apple TV games? Have you tried any of these games for yourself? If yes, which one did you try, and what did you like/dislike about it?
Anirban is a literature post-grad who delves in philosophy and postmodern novels when not writing on tech and gaming. His love for research is only trumped by his love for chai and heavy metal.
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