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Summary:

Coming in stealthily under the din of our WWDC coverage, Apple today has updated its AirPort Express wireless router. It’s redesigned to look more like an Apple TV now, now has AirPlay, and lets you use 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands at the same time.

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Updated. Coming in stealthily under the din of our WWDC coverage, Apple today has updated its AirPort Express wireless router.

The new model doesn’t plug into the wall like the old one. Instead, it looks just like an Apple TV, and even has the exact same dimensions, but comes in white instead of the Apple TV’s black. The back of the device features two Ethernet ports (one WAN, one LAN), a USB port and an analog/optical audio jack for speakers.

Among the new features of the device are support for simultaneous dual-band 802.11n, which means you can use both the 2.4GHz wireless band and the faster 5GHz band at the same time. AirTunes has been replaced with AirPlay, so you can send songs to an AirPort Express from your iPhone or iPad as well as your Mac. Also, if you have more than one AirPort Express connected to speakers, music can be played on all of them at the same time, which is pretty neat. (Update: Sorry, playing music on multiple speakers at once isn’t a new feature, as pointed out by a commenter. Sending songs to an AirPort from an iPhone or iPad also isn’t new, but is only supported on last-generation models that have 802.11n.)

The new AirPort Express is available now for $100. Now we’re left wondering when the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule will get updates, or if they’ve gone the way of the 17-inch MacBook Pro.

  1. Simon White Monday, June 11, 2012

    “AirTunes has been replaced with AirPlay, so you can send songs to an AirPort Express from your iPhone or iPad as well as your Mac. Also, if you have more than one AirPort Express connected to speakers, music can be played on all of them at the same time, which is pretty neat.”

    None of this is new though – You can do all of this with the existing Airport Express.

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    1. +1

      Sounds like the only new features are dual-band N and the additional ethernet port rather than the old dual-purpose one.

      I liked the fact that you could plug the old ones straight into the wall – I thought that being self-contained was a really great feature. I sometimes take mine to places that have wired internet or WiFi with lost (or unknown) passwords to make a WiFi network for myself. I know the new one will still be able to do these things, but I wonder if the design appearing less (literally) ‘plug and play’ will cause people to see the APE as more of a fixed appliance.

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    2. Thanks for pointing that out. You’re right about those not being new features. The article will be updated shortly. Sorry for the delay.

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  2. “Update: Sorry, playing music on multiple speakers at once isn’t a new feature, as pointed out by a commenter. Sending songs to an AirPort from an iPhone or iPad also isn’t new, but is only supported on last-generation models that have 802.11n.”

    The last part of this updated statement is not right either. My 5yr old Airport Express (b/g) does also support AirTunes. It looks as if Apple renamed “AirTunes” into “AirPlay”, which is slightly confusing.

    AirTunes originally enabled iTunes for Mac/Win to stream music to an AirPort Express, whereas AirPlay is streaming audio/video directly from a iOS (and soon supported in Mountain Lion from an OS X device!).

    AirPlay seems to incorporate all of this now, though.

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