AirPlay, Apple's wireless streaming protocol that lets you beam video and music to an Apple TV or music to a compatible speaker, may soon get a killer update that will make it more directly competitive with Bluetooth. The new version of AirPlay, called "AirPlay Direct," will reportedly allow devices to communicate with one another directly, without the need of tapping into a local WiFi network. AirPlay currently only works when both devices are connected to the same wireless router.
Apple is said to be making the change in part because the new iPhone and subsequent iOS devices will no longer feature a 30-pin dock connector, meaning the entire existing ecosystem of speaker docks will be rendered incompatible. With AirPlay, the need to dock your iPhone is eliminated.
It's not yet clear what tech Apple will use to pull off direct communication between devices. Short-range wireless protocols like Bluetooth compress the transmitted audio signal, which has been a major contrast with AirPlay-as-we-know-it, which is uncompressed.
The company will reportedly announce AirPlay Direct (a working title) when the new iPhone is unveiled next month.