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Mar 24, 2018

Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

When will bose support Apple Airplay 2 on Bose SoundTouch products, and which products will be supported?

 

Bose has stated the following:

1) SoundTouch Products that have Bluetooth capability are the ones that will be supported.

 

2) Apple AirPlay 2 will be supported sometime in 2019.

 

3) It is undecided whether current SoundTouch products will be compatible with the new Bose Home line of products, but if they are upgradable, then the SoundTouch app will not be used, the new Bose Music app is used with the new Bose Home products and will be used with SoundTouch products if they become compatible.

 

 

Based upon this information, I think the following is very possibly the situation:

 

1) Support for Apple Airplay 2 may come through an add-on module that translates AirPlay 2 into Bluetooth to the SoundTouch. I reach this supposition because of the Bose statement that the products to support SoundTouch will require Bluetooth. This is admittedly speculation, but Bose has never said that the support of Apple Airplay 2 will be free. And, a single Airplay 2 module connected via Bluetooth would mostly operate transparently to users. Plus, see point #2, below:

 

2) The Bose SoundTouch software architecture appears to be exhausted and is no longer easily adapted to adding more types of speakers or to adding more functionality such as Apple AirPlay 2. Alexa capability was added to SoundTouch products through an external module. The fact is that software updates to SoundTouch are few and far between, with minimal functionality enhancements. SoundTouch appears to be in "maintenance mode" from a software standpoint.

 

An exhausted software architecture ususally comes from one of these issues:

a) The software has grown to the point that there isn't enough memory left.

b) All of the added features have consumed processor headroom and the processor doesn't have free clock cycles to handle added complexity.

c) The original software design was poor and not easily understood as the team grew, or was implemented on an old language or development system, or the design didn't allow for the types of features now being needed.

 

 

3) Bose may or may not be able to migrate the new Bose Home software back to the SoundTouch line, but they just don't know. It seems very clear that they are developing a brand new, fresh code base for the Bose Home line. This new code base uses the Bose Music app and speaks a different internal protocol from how SoundTouch works. The new Bose Music products likely have more memory or a faster processor than SoundTouch.

 

So Bose has this new software under development (sucking up all of the SoundTouch engineers.) This will be their future for whole-house speakers and for interface functionality. They are committing heavily to this. Since we know from statements made by Bose that "this was a long and hard decision" we know that they made a decision to cut from past limitations to be able to have needed new functionality.

 

BUT, since Bose has indicated that it may be possible for SoundTouch products to talk to Bose Music products, what could be the case is that once the Bose Music software is completed and they are through the critical Christmas consumer launch period, they then (in 2019) can go back and see whether it is possible to port the new Bose Music software back to the SoundTouch speakers. They will need to make an analysis of whether the SoundTouch products have enough memory and processor speed, and there just isn't enough field information available at this time to make that determination.

 

 

4) Because of the above (if correct) Bose is unable to answer specific questions about how SoundTouch will become Apple Airplay 2 capable. if it is possible to port the Bose Music software over to the SoundTouch hardware, then that is the best approach. But not enough is known yet about wheat this will entail and whether the Bose Music software will run well enough on the SoundTouch hardware. The fallback solution would be to offer an Apple Airplay 2-to-bluetooth adapter, which would be less desireable, but which would allow SoundTouch to be adequately supported, but to become an end-of-life product. This could fully explain why they cannot give enough specifics...they are as anxious to know as we are.

 

 

5) If the above is correct, we won't know anything probably until after the Christmas consumer season, most likely towards the end of 1Q2019. And, then, we will probably just know whether it will be a bluetooth adapter box or porting of the Bose Music software over to SoundTouch. Such a port would likely take 3~6 months, so we are almost certainly looking at mid-2019 at the earliest for Apple Airplay 2 support on Soundtouch.

 

I don't have any strong inside track into Bose. But the above is based upon the official information now known, plus 40 years of being a software manager and architect. What I have suggested above is plausible, but not certain. But I think it does give us something to think about and an idea of what may be in store.

 

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Moderator - Retired
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Jun 6, 2018

Re: Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

Hello DavidKovanen,

 

Thanks very much for your very well stated and organized analysis. While I am not able to speculate as you can, please know that many of the details that you spoke of are not currently finalized and so cannot be officially discussed in a public forum (which I am sure you already understand given your background). We are very interested in ensuring that the introduction of features such as AirPlay 2 goes smoothly across all included products and when the details of that are known we will share them with you here. I am able to confirm one small part of what you wrote: support for AirPlay 2 will be a free feature. Hopefully as we start to wind down 2018 and move into the new year, we'll have more information to share.

 

Best Regards,

 

Greg - Community Support

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Sep 10, 2018

Re: Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

So Apple just released a FW update for their Airport Express devices, a device that was likely NEVER to support Airplay 2. A product they discontinued in April 2018, that was originally designed in 2012.

I imagine then that the Airplay 2 support does not entail a specific hardware requirement, so what gives? Support from Apple for your engineers or, new direction by Bose on new products and limited focus on SoundTouch.

It’s funny I can connect a device never intended to support AP2, to my SoundTouch to give me the functionaity, even though the ST was positioned as being AP2 ready.
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Jul 24, 2018

Re: Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

The thing is, all of this can be fixed with the right engineering imho. I've had to work with teams to make complex processes work with very little memory and CPU overhead and while difficult is certainly possible. 

 

For the SoundTouch, the vast majority of heavy lifting should be done by the app and not the actual ST device. So I think if Bose expands the engineering team in the future with the right engineers then it's entrirely possible they will be able to resolve this inherent compatability issue that so many are concered about - quite rightly so. 

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Sep 11, 2018

Re: Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

As of last year I am 100% new to Bose speakers outside of headphones. I went with the ST300 + Sub for the main TV, ST300 for the lesser-used TV, and two ST10s for the office and bedroom. Until the recent announcement of the next-gen Alexa-enabled Bose speakers, I had planned to get several more ST speakers to round out the whole house. Now, I don't actaully want Alexa build into my ecosystem because Amazon does not give a rat's butt about consumer privacy protection (IMO). But that said, I feel like there's too much confusion on the direction of Bose in this area. App compatibility? Probably not. AirPlay 2? Maybe, supposedly, hopefully. Same as I've read on the forums here going back almost 2 years. 

 

All that hot air aside, here's my 1 year take on Bose:

 

I have +100% confidence in their hardware development capabilities. It is their heritage and strength. I think their ST speakers all sound great, really great. Better sound than Sonos, hands down. No one else competes at this premium price point for this type of home entertainment/wifi streaming gear.

 

I have -1000% confidence in their software development capabilities. Yes, the SoundTouch app DOES seamless stream music to all the ST speakers fluidly (in sync, no lag). BUT, the lack of support for common music streaming services and the length of time with Bose promising/stating support for AP2 and other features to make them simply on par (let alone have some sort of competitive advanage) with Sonos means they are not taking the software experience seriously. Not at all. They aren't committing enough resources (read: spending the right money in the right ways) to genuine feature enhancements for the ST line up. 

 

Until I know that AP2 is updated for the existing ST line, as in ACTUALLY available and deployed, no more of my money for Bose - which is a shame becuase I am genuinely happy with the quality of the hardward and sound.

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Oct 5, 2014

Re: Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

I agree that bose makes some pretty good hardware. But after going through a couple lifestyle systems which i really like. I have a 650 and it sounds great. 

 

But I have come to think that Bose promises the world but delivers very little. I doubt i will every buy any more Bose products. I really think that they are a company that never will update and keep there equipment up do date. 

 

But wait they have new products every few years that promise new feature. And maybe in the next new product they will get that. 

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Oct 20, 2017

Re: Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

Much of this thread relates to Airplay 2 which for those with Multiple Soundtouch devices may not provide an new features, just a wifi altenetive to using Bluetooth.

I am not sure if Airplay 2 provides multi channel support but of course, its better to connect to Mac Mini or Apple TV eith Optical/HDMI.

 

I would have to see an update of the Soundtouch devices which features such as these:

Gapless playback, 192khz flac/alac support.

802.11ac/ax wifi support, gibabit ethernet support, Bluetooth 5 support.

Extra HDMI inputs at the back of the unit, the layout used by Soundbar 700 avoids the awkward sideways recessed connections on the ST300.

New high end soundbar with extra 2 up facing speakers at the ends and 2 in the middle and Atmos, DTS X decoding, appearance should look similar to Soundbar 700 just longer and spaces in the glass top for the up firing speakers,

As for Soundtouch 20, 30 the replacement should look similar to the Soundtouch 30 but with the Colour display from the Speaker 500, same network updates as above, it may be nice an add an optical input and Airplay support so all bases are covered.

The soundtouch 10 replacement should look like a smaller version of the Soundtouch 20.

 

For me, the gapless playback is more important than Airplay and the soundtouch line should not integrate voice service unless it can be physically turned off.

i would not use an Amazon Alexa device device even it it was free (same goes for Siri and Cortana), I do not need them and do not want to risk orders being placed by accident etc.

 

Comments make regarding the software seen harsh but its reasonable to expect limited resources, so I expect newer products and updates after the Home products have been lauched. The soundtouch product line is mature but not dead and I have discussed getting another ST300 recently as I am happy with the sound, if a soundtouch 900 (object sound product) would appear I may be interested in that if some of the backward compatibility issues worked out even if it means turning off some features via the app.

On the whole I prefer an established product line to ine that thats new and full of issues.

 

The final step is to bring back Soundtouch portable with some features from the above to complete against devices such as BW zeppelin.

 

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Nov 20, 2017

Re: Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

Thank you Greg.
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May 2, 2018

Re: Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

I totally agree with you.

 

For years I am a huge fan of Bose products. I own in-ear and over-ear headphones and they are amazing. Due to this reason, I decided to buy the newest Soundtouch series a few month ago and not to go for Sonos. I got the ST 10,20 and 30, because Bose promised to update the series and make it Airplay 2 compatible. Whereas Sonos directly updated their speakers after the launch of Airplay 2, Bose did not. I check this forum regularly to get up to date but Bose does even not publish any new information. This is just frustrating.

 

The best sound of a speaker is worth nothing if its not compatible with the apps you play the music from.

 

I hope they realize that their massivley loosing customers if they do not invest in software.

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Dec 8, 2016

Re: Apple Airplay 2 and Bose SoundTouch...what lies ahead

@mpf541,

I purchased the original SoundTouch 30 as soon as it was released, many years ago. I bought it for my wife and she loves it as much today as when I first purchased it. The functions it could perform has increased every year since. I’m blown away at how long Bose has supported it and increased it’s value to us by adding new features constantly. I understand that you may be frustrated by not having a feature that you really wanted, or something that was promised is taking longer than expected, but, when that feature is released, it will work better and will definitely sound better than anything out there. In my humble opinion, those that knock Bose, have never heard Bose. I’m not a noob when it comes to audio systems. I’ve heard some really good audio systems, but, for a box that you put on your kitchen counter, that provides not only good sounding music, but the music you want to hear when you want to hear it, Bose has no equal. This has been my 2 cents worth. Thanks for listening.