Apple just turned your ancient AirPort Express router into an AirPlay 2 wireless speaker dongle

Yep, Apple just breathed new life into a totally discontinued product.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister

The AirPort Express is the smaller one on the right. They're both discontinued, though.

Dong Ngo/CNET

You've got to hand it to Apple. Even though the company hasn't updated its AirPort Express router since 2012, and even though it discontinued the entire AirPort line earlier this year, Apple isn't just letting its Wi-Fi router become a doorstop. Today, Apple imbued the AirPort with a brand-new power, one that could keep it in rotation for years to come.

As 9to5Mac and MacRumors report, a new firmware update adds AirPlay 2 to the venerable Wi-Fi router, effectively allowing you to add an additional wireless speaker capable of multiroom audio to your house, just by downloading the update and plugging a wired speaker into the AirPort Express's AUX jack, and then beaming sound from your Apple laptop, tablet or phone. 

Mind you, the AirPort Express was already technically capable of AirPlay 1... but I bet many readers don't know that. Plus, the original AirPlay didn't support Sonos-esque beaming of audio to multiple speakers at the same time. I don't know if I'd have hooked up an AirPort Express as my one-and-only AirPlay speaker, but it's way easier to justify as part of a complete home setup.

Speaking of Sonos, you can add AirPlay 2 to some of Sonos' recent speakers: Here's how.

Watch this: 3 new features in iOS 11.4

Apple vs. Sonos vs. Google: The best (and worst) Wi-Fi speakers

See all photos
Watch this: Apple confirms 2018 iPhone event for Sept. 12