Apple hasn’t released an update to the AirPort Express base station since 2012, and the second-generation box is probably going to be the last of the lineup ever.
But, despite being released more than a handful of years ago, it looks like Apple may be preparing the device to support a brand new feature. According to a report from 9to5Mac, Apple might be working on adding support for AirPlay 2 to the AirPort Express. According to folks who have the box in their home, and who are running the developer beta of iOS 11.4, the AirPort Express is showing up in the Home app as a possible AirPlay 2-supported accessory.
Specifically, the AirPort Express base station is showing up as an AirPlay 2 speaker accessory, suggesting it will support the new wireless feature Apple introduced in September of last year. If it is indeed the case, then the AirPort Express would be able to connect to AirPlay 2 for multi-room audio playback.
Unfortunately, at the time of publication, trying to connect to the AirPort Express only ends up in a failed attempt. Much like AirPlay 2 support with the HomePod, while it’s technically capable, there still needs to be a firmware update on the hardware’s side before the device will actually start working with AirPlay 2.
Unfortunately, while the AirPort Express is showing up, there’s no telling right now if Apple is actually going to roll out support for the base station when iOS 11.4 actually launches to the public later this year. It’s possible that it’s a fluke, or simply a testing procedure, before the AirPort Express is no longer listed with the final public release.
Apple bringing AirPlay 2 support to the AirPort Express would be a pretty bold move, considering how old the base station is. Then again, you can still buy the AirPort Express right now directly from Apple, either online or in a physical retail store, for $99. So maybe it makes sense Apple is bringing the AirPlay 2 feature to the base station after all.