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Wireless Networking Communications Network The Internet Hardware Apple Technology

Apple Discontinues Its AirPort Router Line (9to5mac.com) 189

9to5Mac reports that Apple is officially exiting the wireless router business and selling off its remaining inventory of AirPort products. This includes the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and both models of the AirPort Time Capsule. "We're discontinuing the Apple AirPort base station products," Apple said in a statement to 9to5Mac. "They will be available through Apple.com, Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers while supplies last." From the report: While the news is disappointing for fans of Apple's routers, the end of the AirPort line is no surprise either. Bloomberg reported back in November 2016 that Apple had disbanded the team responsible for developing Apple's routers, and in January 9to5Mac was first to report that Apple Stores started selling third-party. At the time, Apple told us that its AirPort line would remain -- with the mesh Wi-Fi routers adding a solution for larger homes: "People love our AirPort products and we continue to sell them. Connectivity is important in the home and we are giving customers yet another option that is well suited for larger homes."
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Apple Discontinues Its AirPort Router Line

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  • by HanzoSpam ( 713251 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @07:49PM (#56510433)

    So what becomes of orphaned technologies like Time Machine and AirPlay? Do they plan to finally license them out to other vendors?

    • You can buy a Synology NAS at use it as a Time Machine backup station. Wired or wireless.
    • So what becomes of orphaned technologies like Time Machine and AirPlay? Do they plan to finally license them out to other vendors?

      Neither of those technologies depend on Apple Routers.

      Time Machine doesn't do anything other technologies do, anyway. They just made it drop dead simple to implement, and built the backup-browser into MacOS.

      As for AirPlay, it does use some semi-proprietary texhnology, I guess; but considering there are already multiple third-patty AirPlay broadcasters and receivers, on multiple platforms (including Android, frinstance), I don't think that the loss of Apple Routers makes any difference.

      I will say, however, t

    • by grub ( 11606 )
      Both work on non-Apple devices. I have a big TimeMachine ZFS dataset on a NAS4Free box.
    • They will probably leave them as-is an not invest any more development effort in them.
      They've discontinued the financial incentive they had.

    • How is Time Machine "orphaned"? It still works with a locally-attached hard drive... not nearly as convenient as with a Time Capsule, but it's still fully functional.

    • Netatalk [wikipedia.org] is an open source implementation of Apple's Filing Protocol, which is what Time Machine uses.
      There's lots of instructions for setting this up on Linux. IIRC I had less problems with this than tracking down odd SMB settings.
      Worked flawlessly for years when I was using it (no Macs in the house, at the moment).

      • Samba also supports the requirements for Time Machine over SMB, since Samba 4.8, so you can back up via either SMB or AFP to a non-Apple device.
    • by surfcow ( 169572 )

      Time Machine is Apple's backup / restore program. It is not going anywhere.

      AirPlay (formerly AirTunes) is Apple's proprietary network stack for streaming. It's used by many hardware venders to synch wireless speakers. I believe AirFoil uses it. It's not going anywhere either.

      Time Capsule is an AirPort Extreme with an integrated HD used for Time Machine. It is going away.

    • Orphaned how? A Time Capsule device is just their Time Machine feature wrapped in a piece of hardware, but the feature exists without the Tim Capsule, and is, in fact, how most users are using it already. All you need for Time Machine is a hard drive connected to your Mac. The Time Capsule was just a simple way of putting that drive on your network instead of next to your machine.

      Likewise, AirPlay works fine over any WiFi network, Airport or not. The only thing the Airport line brought to AirPlay was the ad

  • Small, good sound. Guess HomePod sealed its fate ;

  • by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <kepler1&hotmail,com> on Thursday April 26, 2018 @08:02PM (#56510495)
    It's unfortunate that Apple didn't make a bigger deal / better known publicity of the feature set of its Airports. Did you know that they have the ability to create extended mesh networks by linking up multiple units, just like overpriced overhyped stuff that some startups are hawking in the last 2 years? It has covered my home like a charm, and you can find used ones for ~$30.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We've been able to set up those features with ddwrt, openwrt on other routers for years if not a decade now.
      It's nothing special, nor has it been expensive.
      Unless you wanted an Airport router.

      • Unless you wanted an Airport router.

        Or something that works.

        Or something that can be set up in under two minutes.

        Or something that doesn't require flashing your router's firmware.

        Or something an average person or their parents can use, and not some L33t haxxorz wanna-be kludge.

        I have a Time Capsule, and its wifi signal extended through THREE AirMacs across my property. ("AirMac" is the old Japanese branding for Airport Express.) They all work perfectly. All the time. The only time they've been reset is when the power went out a few years a

  • by sandbagger ( 654585 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @08:28PM (#56510593)

    Things Apple has added:

    Emoji Bar
    Watch Bands
    Earbuds that need to be thrown out when the batteries degrade
    Keyboards and mice that need to be thrown out when the batteries degrade

    Things Apple killed recently
    Time capsule
    Cinema Displays and displays with matte finishes
    Headphone Jacks
    USB Ports
    SD Card Readers
    Wired mice and wired keyboards
    Machines with PCI cards

    Things that are effectively dead
    Mac Mini
    Mac Pro

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Reaperducer ( 871695 )

      Apple still sells wired keyboards.

      But you also forgot these items that Apple discontinued:
      - Floppy drives
      - Apple-branded rechargeable AA batteries
      - Apple-branded DVD-ROMs
      - Apple-branded dialup modems (The last one was built into the original iTit Airport)
      - Apple-branded scanners
      - Apple-branded digital cameras
      - Apple socks (iPod cozies)
      - Apple-branded printers

      Fortunately, the Wintel equivalents will live forever in discount Chinese websites thanks to Microsoft lemmings.

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @08:46PM (#56510665)

    A little known fact is that you can AirPlay to an Airport Express and it'll output digital PCM to whatever's on the other side. I have a bunch of them feeding into different stereos all over the house, for cheap whole-home audio. Pretty good for a $30 device (used).

    • Apple wants to sell you HomePods and noose you to their cloud for $200+ a pop. $30 isn't enough pound of flesh for them.
    • The unfortunate problem with AirPort Express is that they're only 802.11n. No bloody ac, ad or ax.
      • And that is a problem for playing a bit of music why?

      • If they're only acting as a audio receiver/bridge, that won't matter too much. Unless you have audio to stream that's also too large to fit over the optical S/PDIF pipe.

    • A little known fact is that you can AirPlay to an Airport Express and it'll output digital PCM to whatever's on the other side. I have a bunch of them feeding into different stereos all over the house, for cheap whole-home audio. Pretty good for a $30 device (used).

      And by "little known," you mean specifically listed on the box, in the manual, in iOS, in iTunes, and on Apple's website?

      Speaking of used Airports, a great place to get them cheap is Goodwill. I know a guy who picked up a lot of four for $20.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @09:08PM (#56510751) Journal
    When will a new proprietary W1/Bluetooth network protocol for Apple devices be announced?
  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @09:15PM (#56510783) Homepage Journal

    This is really too bad, because the Airport line were fantastic routers, and had a pile of functionality that you can't easily get in any other package.

    Back int he mid 2000s, the "flying saucer" routers were designed with institutional use in mind, supporting up to 50 simultaneous connections. They were one of the first home routers that provided IPv6 functionality, both native and tunnelled, right out of the box. They support the Bonjour Sleep Proxy service (I'm not aware of any other router that does), permitting Bonjour services for devices that switch to a low-power mode, along with wide-area Bonjour that can automatically register hosts and their services with a suitable DNS (akin to dynamic DNS, but with services as well). The Expresses have excellent Airplay support, accepting streaming Apple Lossless audio and outputting via either standard analog or digital optical. And the Time Capsules have out-of-the-box support for TimeMachine backups.

    They are also very easy to mesh together, and have had it for fifteen years now. The configuration tool will even dynamically generate a connection diagram for all your Airport devices, showing how they interconnect (and whether connections are wired or wireless).

    All in all, great routers for the money. I know of no other routers that provide all of these features in one box. Hopefully Apple will partner with someone so we don't lose Bonjour Sleep Proxy and wide-area Bonjour support in particular. And at least my existing installations will continue to work for many years yet. Still a bit of a sad day -- Apple used to be ahead of the curve, but let the market slip past them.


    • by greenwow ( 3635575 ) on Thursday April 26, 2018 @09:29PM (#56510843)

      They were fantastic. My AirPort Extreme I think I bought new in 2003 still works. It's slow so I only use it when my other access points quit. I think I've been through six of other brands since then so I've had to resort to using it many times, but it just keeps working unlike all of the other ones I've ever bought. The next closest one was the good old Linksys WRT54G that I think worked for four years before it started locking up and requiring cycling the power.

      • They were fantastic. My AirPort Extreme I think I bought new in 2003 still works.

        I have one as well, and it also still works. I haven't used it in over a decade, as it capped out at 802.11a/g and I relaxed it with the 802.11n version (and later the 802.11ac version) when they became available.

        Some other cool features that people may have forgotten about -- as the Airport Express was designed for travel, it supported up to five "profiles" you could pre-load into it for connecting to different networks. So you could have one profile for home, and one for use in different hotels (for exa

    • by _LORAX_ ( 4790 )

      Don't forget they were one of the only routers that was virtually impossible to brick since they were fully link-local ipv6 aware. They were nearly impossible to kill as well.

    • Ubiquiti's home product, AmpliFi, blows the Apple AP out of the water. It's mesh too. You can extend the range with extra repeaters that you plug into the wall. The experience is darn "Apple-fied" easy. In fact, I fully expect with near 99% certain that Apple Stores will be stocking the AmpliFi units as direct replacement of their own Airport. And if they don't, well, Apple is just fucking stupid.

      Yeah, they're that good.

      https://amplifi.com/ [amplifi.com]

      • Sure there are good routers out there -- but do they have all of the protocol support the Apple routers have?

        I mean, it if doesn't have Bonjour Sleep Proxy or Wide Area Bonjour (and yes, I use both), regular Bonjour advertisements (for services provided by the router itself), and doesn't have Airplay support, then I'm _losing functionality_. A small speed bump doesn't make up for that.

        Besides which, Amplifi's IPv6 support is anemic compared to Apple's. According to their own docs [amplifi.com] they only support DHCPv6

        • I suspect that Apple will be cloud-nudging and cloud-pushing for things like printing, music playing, and sharing so lack of Bonjour and Airplay is a feature (to them) not a bug. They can't monetize and bill monthly for local services not controlled by them.
          • I suspect that Apple will be cloud-nudging and cloud-pushing for things like printing, music playing, and sharing so lack of Bonjour and Airplay is a feature (to them) not a bug.

            They can't get rid of Bonjour. It underpins so much of Apple's cloud strategy in the first place. Wide Area Bonjour and Back to My Mac are already Cloud powered, and Wide Area Bonjour needs Bonjour Sleep Proxy if it's going to be able to deal with devices that can go into low power (sleep) mode. When it comes to Bonjour, it's as if you made the statement that Apple doesn't need to support TCP/IP anymore because "Cloud". Even with the cloud, you still want/need Service Discovery.

            As for Airplay, consideri

            • Well you're right, Bonjour Sleep Proxy is only on the Apple Airport routers. However, mDNS (multicasting, effectively Bonjour) is supported on many networking routers and APs, including Ubiquity based equipment. That said, the parent is correct; Apple will eventually deprecate iTunes and all local medial storage/playback. Oh, I'm sure you can cache cloud media for mobile usage (like in an Airplane), but it all get's tied back to the cloud.

              As for me? I'm seriously looking into a 2 disk Synology unit that wil

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Fantastic as they may be, and innovative they once were, well, the rest of industry has pretty much undercut them.

      Apple routers were expensive at several hundred bucks each. Sure they're better than the $20 daily special at Best Buy (or the $5 sepcial at Alibaba), you could get some very high end routers with the latest WiFi for less. And even "enterprise class" routers from the likes of Ubiquity Networks (UniFi WiFi APs, AmpliFi routers and mesh networks).

      And a lot of them didn't require a Mac or iOS devic

  • --So, does anyone have any good recommendations for something to replace AirPort routers ?

    • You can probably manage to either replace the Airport's ease of use, or the functionality, but not both.

      Custom firmware like DD-WRT [dd-wrt.com] on ASUS routers was what I was using up until moving to pfSense on a small atom board. The ASUS hardware was decent enough, and less eye-wateringly priced than some competitors. I still have one in use as a dumb access point.

      I've seen instructions for compiling Netatalk [wikipedia.org] for DD-WRT for a more complete AirPort replacement. I've used Netatalk on an Ubuntu box as a TimeMachine sour

  • I don't care so much about the router-only models, which can be replaced with competing commodity routers. But the Time Capsule model has no equivalent, and was one of Apple's best ideas... OK, half of one of their best ideas. The other half is Time Machine, which is hands down, the best personal-computer backup system I have ever seen: set it up, and forget about it until you need it. Working over wifi, it's like "cloud" backup, but faster, no monthly fees, and low probability of data breaches.

    I gently pus

    • They've proven time and again they don't want good products unless they are mass appeal now.

      They already dropped legacy Final Cut Pro (and broke it entirely in High Sierra), have no good Mac Pro line anymore, and even hobbled their Macbook Pro with useless keyboards.

  • I love my Google WiFi system. For the first time, I have no dead spots in the house. It just works, and it has all the features I want, and then some.

    BUT when Apple decided to remove the headphone jack from the iPhone, the other phone makers started to follow suit.

    I hope Google doesn't, in this case, but I'm certainly not sure.

    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      Google won't do that. It's a great way to get to know their customers even better. Even when you use VPN they can follow every move you make on the interwebs thanks tto their wifi equipment.

  • My experience with ISPs that supply a free WiFi router is that they will supply the cheapest POS that they can. The WiFi has been crap with drop outs, dead zones requiring the whole thing to be reset. My Airport express has always just sat there, working, excellent coverage. I have my USB printer plugged into it, and that works just fine. I guess after all the promises and delays the Mac mini will be DOA too as will the Mac Pro.
    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      Yep. And they go on forever. I bought mine ten years ago and they still work.

    • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

      In general anything supplied by a consumer isp will be garbage...
      I had my house wired up with ethernet in every room, and cables in the ceilings in strategic locations for ceiling-mount wifi devices. Considering that internet access is now ubiquitous in many countries i'd expect all new houses to be built this way then you can just configure your router to talk to the isp's service.

  • This isn't a good move. I'll bet it looks like a good move from an ROI spreadsheet, but we're seeing daily that Tim Cook really isn't a 'product experience' person at all. He's losing what made things integrate and be special.

    In ye olden days, the saucer Airport was a revelation. Apple could control the set up experience, and it showed. Other routers existed, but none were so simple to set up. You can argue a many have caught up with that now, and I will also totally agree that others have surpassed it i
  • by MMC Monster ( 602931 ) on Friday April 27, 2018 @06:09AM (#56512239)

    The Airport line were a victim of their own success.

    The people posting here about their personal experiences with Airports (myself included) all have similar stories.

    They tried several other routers which had a wide variety of problems. They then bought an Airport ~10 years ago and everything has been perfect since.

    You can't build a business like Apple's on single purchases unless the word of mouth was incredible. Unfortunately people don't discuss buying routers all that much. They just go to a store and buy one.

  • Isnâ(TM)t it more that they were finally honest with people that 6 year old products that havenâ(TM)t been refreshed or even discussed have been discontinued long ago and they forgot to tell the public?

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.