Apple’s ecosystem has long had a reputation for not playing nice with third-party platforms and devices. However, some surprising new announcements hint that that may change moving forward.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 has yet to officially kick off, but three third-party TV manufacturers have already announced that they’ve partnered with Apple for additional ecosystem support on upcoming devices. Here’s what you need to know.
Samsung, LG and Vizio
Over the weekend and today, a trio of manufacturers announced that they would be adding AirPlay 2 support for their upcoming TVs. Samsung made their surprising announcement on Sunday, while Vizio and LG announced their own integration at CES ’19 on Monday.
With the added support, users will be able to push images, videos and audio to Samsung, Vizio and LG televisions using AirPlay 2.
The support will also allow TVs from those manufacturers to be integrated into simple HomeKit automations or controlled by Siri on HomePod or iOS.
Users should also be able to access basic functionality through the Home app, like switching a TV off and on or changing the volume.
In addition to AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support, Samsung also announced that it would be adding a new iTunes Movies and TV shows app.
That new app will allow owners of Samsung Smart TVs to access and view their existing iTunes library, as well as buy and rent new selections from the iTunes Store.
As far as when the support will be added, it varies slightly by manufacturer.
- Vizio says beta testing will begin this quarter. A free software update for all SmartCast-equipped TVs will go live in the second quarter.
- LG said that support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit will be active on LG TVs made and sold this year.
- 2019 Samsung Smart TVs models will ship with AirPlay 2 support and the iTunes Movies and TV Shows app. Support for those platforms on 2018 Smart TVs will be made available in a firmware update later in the year.
Why Is AirPlay and iTunes Coming to New TVs?
While the surprise announcement may hint that Apple is softening it long-held “walled garden” stance, it mostly suggests that the Cupertino tech giant is preparing for the launch of its first-party original TV and movie streaming service.
Prior to the announcements, AirPlay 2 was limited to third-party speakers and other audio-based accessories. Similarly, the iTunes app is only available on Apple’s operating systems and Windows.
To put it another way, Apple wants its upcoming TV service to be available on as many devices as possible. That may just be the only way to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu or Amazon.
Apple has a slew of original TV shows in the works, and has even tapped high-profile film studios for possible feature-length productions. The service is expected to debut this year and could even launch for free for Apple device owners on the TV app, though the company may also be looking to sell paid subscriptions to users of third-party devices.
It also foreshadows Apple’s broader Services-based ambitions, since a rumor from last year hinted that the company was considering a combined Apple Music, Apple Original Content and Apple News subscription combo.