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Apple introduces AirPlay 2 with multiroom support

Apple is taking on Sonos with its latest foray into Wi-Fi music, AirPlay 2, which now comes with multiroom support.

Apple's head of software Craig Federighi announces the successor to the AirPlay system, which already lets you stream CD-quality music over Wi-Fi.

Apple/Screenshot by Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Apple has unveiled its latest Wi-Fi protocol, called AirPlay 2, at its WWDC conference in San Jose. AirPlay 2 will be compatible with new speakers and third-party apps. 

The company also revealed its much-rumored smart speaker, the HomePod

Apple said that it is partnering with companies such as Bang and Olufsen, Bose, Beats (which it owns), Polk, Denon, Bowers and Wilkins, Definitive Technology, Devialet, Naim and Bluesound to bring AirPlay 2 to market.

It won't only be Apple apps such as HomeKit and Music that will be able to take advantage of the new features, as Federighi said that "third-party audio apps will be able to get in on the multiroom audio fun".

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Apple is working with over a dozen manufacturers to bring AirPlay 2 to market.

James Martin/CNET

Based on one of the screens the company showed on stage, AirPlay users will be able to select from a list of rooms and group them. At the moment AirPlay is only one-to-one from your phone, though serving to multiple devices is possible with a Mac and/or third-party software. This new capability will bring it in line with competing systems such as Play-Fi, Chromecast Audio and Sonos. 

It's as yet unknown if AirPlay 2 is capable of working on existing equipment or if it requires new gear, though the presence of Play-Fi-supporting companies such as Polk and others such as Devialet means that it may be backwards compatible. 

Apple didn't respond immediately to CNET's request for comment.

Follow our WWDC live blog for real-time coverage. 

WWDC 2017: All the news so far