The full import of the announcement didn’t exactly sink in at the time, but when Steve Jobs announced last Wednesday that AirTunes was becoming AirPlay, he was really announcing that media-streaming on Apple devices was getting a lot more open. Not only would AirTunes be extended to hardware beyond AirPort Expresses, making every AirPlay-compatible peripheral capable of sucking up tunes across the room, and not only was he opening AirTunes to an expanded gamut of media types including video and photos, but he was also opening the door for iOS devices to stream media directly to other devices, with no iTunes intermediary required.
I have to admit that as someone with three AirPort Expresses, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t realize immediately how cool this was. Thankfully, third-party accessory makers were quicker on the uptake than I was, and iHome has already announced their first AirPlay compatible wireless speaker system. Scant details so far (except for a rechargeable battery) and obviously — since this is just a speaker — it’s humble beginnings. But just you wait. An AirPlay compatible television is coming, mark my words.