The biggest surprise of CES this year came from Apple, a company that didn't give a keynote speech, didn't have a booth on the show floor, but nevertheless dominates the show year after year from afar. A bunch of TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio will support AirPlay 2. It was a surprise because none of the announcements leaked, sure, but it was also a surprise because it ran completely counter to the way things usually go at CES. It also ran counter to the way things usually go with Apple. But even though nobody seemed to see it coming, it was also -- at least, in retrospect -- inevitable. Here's how things usually go at CES: a ton of consumer electronics companies make hundreds of announcements, we sift through them all to find the most interesting stuff, and Apple sits it out.
In one of the more surprising twists at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Apple announced that the newest version of AirPlay, the company's proprietary streaming suite, will be compatible with several TVs in 2019. The announcement includes TVs from Samsung, LG, Vizio, and Sony--some of Apple's stiffest competitors. The announcement is surprising if only for Apple's history of isolating itself from competing companies, even more so than most of its contemporaries. With AirPlay 2 functionality, these TVs will be able to stream movies, music, photos, and more from compatible iPhones, iPads, and Macs on the same wireless network. The streaming suite also allows users to mirror their Apple device's display on a second screen.
Apple is all over CES 2019. True, the California-based tech giant doesn't have an official presence here, apart from a single, pointed billboard. It started with Samsung, who made a surprise pre-show announcement that its 2019 smart TVs would support AirPlay 2, letting iOS users natively stream music and video from iPhones and iPads, mirror their screens, and use their devices as a remote control. Both LG and Vizio followed Apple in announcing AirPlay 2 support, and Apple made it official by updating its AirPlay webpage to say AirPlay 2-enabled TVs were "coming soon." SEE ALSO: It's official: iPhones are too expensive No manufacturer can just add AirPlay support on their own.
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For years, a big part of Apple's premium experience--and justification for its premium pricing--has been that its software and services are only available on its hardware. At this year's CES tech show in Las Vegas, it's become apparent that the company is ready to try something different. Samsung announced Monday that Apple's iTunes software--and the video library it lets people make purchases from--will be available on its smart TVs. In addition, these TVs will support AirPlay 2, Apple's wireless standard that allows Apple's iPhones and other devices to stream content directly to those TVs. That was followed by a flurry of AirPlay 2 announcements from other TV makers including LG, Vizio and Sony .