iPhone 5 launch to see unveiling of AirPlay Direct?

Next month is set to be the most important of the year for Apple. Not only is the iPhone 5 expected to launch, but 12 September 2012 could also see the next step in AirPlay wireless media streaming – with AirPlay Direct.

AirPlay Direct is the iOS version of Wi-Fi Direct. This lets two compatible devices communicate without needing an internet connection, such as your home broadband, making wireless streaming far more versatile. The Telegraph writes that “sources familiar with the iPhone-maker’s plans” say that AirPlay Direct will be launched alongside the iPhone 5, heavily rumoured to arrive on 12 September 2012.

If devices other than the iPhone 5 will get AirPlay Direct compatibility, it will allow existing iPhone users to connect with AirPlay-compliant speakers and docks while out of range of a Wi-Fi network. At present both devices need to be within range of the same network – making AirPlay much less flexible than a rival wireless standard like Bluetooth. We probably won’t know whether older iOS gadgets like the current iPad and iPhone 4S will be in on the action until launch though. And Apple has a history of keeping oldies out of the latest goodies – most iOS devices still don’t have Siri, for example.
AirPlay logo
Other than making AirPlay much more useful, the introduction of AirPlay Direct will also have another very important function. It will help to soften the blow of the change in connector. The iPhone 5 is likely to dump the current 30-pin port in favour of a smaller 9-pin socket, much closer in size to the microUSB type than the relatively chunky model in use at the moment.  It won’t help non-AirPlay audio docks, of course, but does make using AirPlay on something like the B&W Zeppelin Air a good deal more attractive.

Own a non-wireless audio dock and are terrified it’s slipping into obsolescence? It’s highly likely that dock converter accessories will be available a little further down the road.

Other expected “revolutions” in the iPhone 5 include NFC, a 4in screen and a more powerful processor. Yes, they’re things that have been common in Android phones for a good while now, but the inclusion of NFC in particular should help speed-out its roll-out across the high street. NFC lets you pay for small items, such as a cup of coffee, with little more than a swipe of a phone. Neat-o, huh?

We’ll be back with more news of the iPhone 5 launch in the days leading up to 12 September.

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