AirPlay has been around for well over a year now, but the range of AirPlay compatible accessories available is still pretty slim. However, that could be about to change.
Apple is reportedly planning to introduce Bluetooth support to AirPlay, which would significantly extend the range of accessories currently compatible with the feature. The company will also improve iOS connectivity for third-party accessories.
According to Japanese blog Macotakara, Apple held an MFI (Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad) conference in Shenzhen, China, last week, at which it announced a new certification chip for third-party accessory manufacturers in a bid to encourage more iOS-compatible accessories.
The new chip will reportedly allow access to iOS devices over AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, and could open the door to much-improved iOS accessories, such as game controllers. Macotakara’s report doesn’t specify how the new program is different to the current one, but according to MacRumors, the current program appears to be limited to physical dock accessories and specific AirPlay vendors.
At present, iOS accessories such as the iCade cabinet from ThinkGeek rely on Bluetooth keyboard emulation to control our games — simply because of the restrictions Apple has placed on Bluetooth connections to our devices. However, under the new program, these restrictions won’t be so tight, and third-party manufacturers should have more freedom.
Touch Arcade suggests that with more freedom and better compatibility, third-party manufacturers could introduce accessories like low-latency analog control sticks, which would be huge for iOS gamers.
Apple also announced that it will be introducing Bluetooth support to its AirPlay streaming feature, according to the report, which means we will no longer be restricted to just Wi-Fi-connected accessories when we want to stream audio and video between devices.