According to The Telegraph’s cryptic ‘sources familiar with the matter,’ Apple plans to release a new feature called ‘AirPlay Direct’ which will allow an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or a computer with iTunes to stream music to AirPlay compatible speakers without a WiFi network in the area. This would likely be enabled by an ad-hoc network between the two devices, similar to the iPhone’s personal hotspot mode.
While the idea seems like a no brainer, it also strikes me as redundant. Sure, the iPhone shouldn’t need a router as a middleman for wirelessly streaming music to speakers, but that’s a function Bluetooth already serves. The advantage of using AirPlay is that it can cover your whole house through a home network, but with an ad-hoc connection you may as well be using bluetooth.
AirPlay Direct would be more interesting if it included support for ad-hoc AirPlay Mirroring or video streams. There’s no indication of the feature in the article, but that would give the technology a reason to exist. There’s no reason why the iPhone 4S shouldn’t be able to stream video through an ad hock network to the Apple TV.
While there is worry that the upcoming iPhone’s new 9-pin dock connector will cause problems for existing accessories, incompatibility between new accessories and old devices may not be as much of a problem, as Apple pushes its proprietary wireless standards. As WiFi and bluetooth are both more common now than when the iPod’s 30-pin dock connector was released in 2003, maybe the physical inconsistency won’t matter as much.
Has wireless technology replaced the dock connector? Will it replace the technology in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.