RIP: Apple AirPort, 1999–2018

What concerns me is the inability now to get router hardware that offers audio-out for Airplay. Although many people have had problems with Airplay speakers, using the Airport Express’s has worked wonderfully for me for years, and my living room music consists of powered studio monitors that stream lossless music (and podcasts, and radio) via Airplay. When my Airport Express eventually dies I’ll have to look for a used, deprecated replacement (that uses older wireless protocols).

Also, Apple has been quiet about Airplay support with Airplay 2 software, so I worry about my continued ability to stream to my monitors.


For $36/year?

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I don’t think my two AirPort Extreme units are going to die overnight because Apple is dropping them from its line but I’m thinking seriously about picking up another to have as a spare. I’ve found them very easy to configure and feel very comfortable with the units. The newer, tall model serves my family room with TV, Apple TV, laptop and several iPads and iPhones with virtually no problems. I also back up my laptop via Time Macine to a hard drive connected to the Extreme. The older horizontal model serves as an access point for an HP printer that lost its built in wi-fi capability, a fairly common occurrence in that model. Yup, I may pick up a spare.

I’m thinking along the exact same lines. I’m tempted to buy the just discontinued Extreme (tall) just to have around in case my old n-type (flat) Extreme does die in the not so distant future. I understand the AP Extreme very well, configuration is a breeze, and it’s rock solid. Probably that’s $179 very well spent in terms of peace of mind.

I did the same thing when it was announced that development had stopped and engineers reassigned.

Ordered one right after I made the post, above.

My original model AirPort Express has been dedicated to only AirPlay for a long time (the WiFi is even deactivated as much as I can make it it’s connected by Ethernet cable to my AirPort Extreme), I don’t expect it to fail but if it did, I know there are options.

Bluetooth has become much more common for wireless audio receivers and speakers but there are 3rd party WiFi audio receivers. The AirPlay protocol for audio was reverse-engineered long ago and others have been able to make hardware and software that supports it for a long time. Devices like this iDER audio receiver I saw on Amazon are much cheaper than an Apple Airport Express.

I’m not concerned about Apple dropping AirPlay support once AirPlay 2 is done, especially not for audio.

There were plenty on the shelf at my local store yesterday.

But unless I have a hair on fire emergency I wait for a refurb to show up on Apple’s site. $50 for Express, $130 for the Extreme.

Will third party routers respond to the airport Utility app on my iPad or MacBookPro?

Nope. That utility is only for Apple Hardware.

Yes, but another user responded earlier about an iPhone app that allowed them to configure a non-Apple router, which is what I think Jack is referring to. I doubt that it is as user friendly as the Airport Utility, but it’s a start.

So those with Macs and Airport networks are screwed.

John Ferman

Minneapolis, MN

My doctor says I have a malformed public-duty gland and as a result have a severe morale fibre deficiency, so I should not be expected to save the world."

How so? Airport Utility runs on Mac OS.

Stupid idea - who at Apple decided this was the way forward? Probably the same person who decided to stop making cinema displays! Other routers i’ve tried just ‘suck’ in terms of performance and setup. The constant need to reboot the Netgear routers i tried made me mad - for no specific reason… they would just stop working requiring a restart. Airport extreme / express have never had a problem and work flawlessly with my Apple eco system. Buying what i can before they are gone for good. The reason my Apple devices work so well is because there is a quality wifi product tying it all together. Just dumb Apple, see you again in 2 or 3 years when you realise that the customer experience of your products suck without quality wifi… just like cinema displays - now Apple is making them again as the promised LG alternative is a bad substitute and terrible overall user experience affects the Apple brand.

But there are many quality WiFi products avaialable now at about the same price point as an airport express and a single extreme. Yes, most of the single netgear routers (and others) are pretty lousy, but that’s not where the market is heading.

Apple’s choices were to stop doing WiFi routers or to spend some time on the development of a Apple branded mesh product. I’m sure they looked at the math and the engineering resources and decided that there were enough good products out there that Apple didn’t need to have its own.

I know a lot of people with Mesh routers installed in the last year or two who are extremely happy. Mine is a lot better than the Aiprort in on major way, it can handle the way 60+ devices in my house which the airopiort simpoky couldn’t do *computers, printers, lights, smart hubs, speakers, televisions, game consoles, set top boxes, cameras, etc).

I wish Apple would make a device like Google’s Chromecast Audio. Of course, I’m sure Apple’s response would be to buy a HomePod. And now that I think about it, part of this decision may have been due to (upcoming?) AirPlay 2 incompatibilities and a desire to sell HomePods.

Or the same people who thought getting into the hiphop music radio station business or reality TV shows was more important than let’s say a serious Mac Pro, or ironing out bugs in HS or updating the Mac mini, or actually innovating macOS.

I agree entirely with you. It was a short-sighted decision driven by the same obnoxious people who have replaced passion at Apple with pure lust for market share and dividends.

7 posts were split to a new topic: Why Apple got out of the laser printer business

Yeah, and it’s a good deal. A good, single-point, consumer-grade router runs about $150 these days. (Wirecutter’s current pick is $168.) An Eero will cost about double that. And a router will last, what, 3 or 4 years, realistically? So over four years I’ll spend $144 on my router, and if something goes wrong with it, my ISP will replace it at no extra charge.

It’s also a great, commercial-grade router that’s probably better than anything I could buy. I get signal all the way out to my shop, which is about 200 yards away. It also almost never needs to be rebooted. I explained my rationale back in “How to Ensure High-speed Internet Access When Buying a New Home” (18 May 2017).

If my ISP rented crappy hardware for high prices (like when Comcast charged us $10 per month for an outdated, slow modem), then I’d absolutely buy a router. But in my case renting makes sense.

Of course not !

All routers are built to the same 802.11 standards and all are user configurable, though some more easily than others. There are probably millions of Apple users out there using third part routers they purchased themselves or where supplied by their ISP and although some have run into difficulties working with them, all such problems are solvable today and Apple backing out of that market will do nothing to change all that.


This is exactly where opinions differ. To the old Apple the relevant issue was not “if a problem was fundamentally solvable”, but rather, “is that solution accessible to everyday users”. The AP Extreme gave people a very reliable base station that required all of a few seconds to configure. Sure you can buy a great router somewhere and then you can configure it for as long as you want (or as much as you know how). But the reality today is that most people have crappy routers and reliability of their wifi networks often sucks. Who cares if those folks in principle could do better if only they had bought router xyz and read through three books on the topic? What the old Apple did was bring great performance to people with no clue. What the new Apple is now saying is screw those folks. Let them subscribe to our hiphop radio station instead.

(I realize the gist of your post was that any 802.11-compliant base station should work just fine with Macs and that’s of course correct. I just chose to focus on the aspect of “Why should Apple do…”)