Sony Announces New Wireless Earbuds Coming in August for $230

Sony today announced the WF-1000XM3 earbuds, a new set of true wireless earbuds that will launch this August for $229.99.

The new earbuds come with advanced noise cancellation, powered by a dual noise sensor that catches more of the ambient sounds from your surroundings. This is paired with a dedicated HD noise-cancelling processor, the QN1e, which cancels more noise across all frequencies while using less power.


All of the noise cancellation features can be customized in settings, and you can choose to hear more or less ambient noise at any time. There are a few gesture-based features as well, allowing users to place a finger over the earbud to turn the volume down and let in ambient sounds.

In terms of audio quality, Sony promises high-resolution audio powered by a small 0.24" driver unit and the company's Digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX. The earbuds also have a new Bluetooth chip and an optimized antenna design for wider coverage and uninterrupted streaming.


The earbuds offer six hours of power on one full charge, and the included charging case provides three charges. Users can also opt to turn noise-cancelling features off to boost listening time to eight hours per charge. A quick 10-minute charge in the charging case offers up to 90 minutes of play time.

The Verge has hands-on coverage of the earbuds, noting one major downside: they aren't sweat or water-resistant, so any gym-goers may do better looking into other wireless headphones.

Sony's WF-1000XM3 earbuds will launch next month for $229.99.

Tag: Sony

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PlayStation Vue Raising Prices for Every Subscription Plan by $5, Now Starts at $49.99/Month

Sony today announced that its live TV streaming service, PlayStation Vue, will receive a $5/month price hike across every one of its multi-channel plans. This means that the cheapest PS Vue plan will now be $49.99/month for the "Access" tier.


Additionally, the "Core" tier will be priced at $54.99/month, the "Elite" tier will be $64.99/month, and the "Ultra" tier will be $84.99/month. The price hike is effective today for new customers, while existing customers will retain their existing prices for at least 30 days, and then will see new prices during their first billing cycle on or after July 31, 2019.

Sony said that because of the rising cost of content each year, it decided to increase prices to ensure that it provides "the best live TV viewing experience at the most compelling value." The company also noted that it will continue to develop new features and integrations for the service in the future, and pointed out that PS Vue already offers multi-view on Apple TV, a conflict-free DVR, and more.
With costs rising each year for content, we constantly evaluate each deal to ensure we continue to deliver the content you want while considering the overall value of each package. After reviewing this, we have made the decision to raise the price of all of our multi-channel plans by $5. This change starts today for new customers. Our existing customers will keep their current price for at least 30 days and will see the new price beginning on their first billing cycle on or after July 31.
PS Vue is the latest live TV streaming service to see a price hike this year; it was preceded by YouTube TV in April, FuboTV in March, and DirecTV Now also in March. All three of these services increased their rates by $10/month.

Below we've listed the current entry-level prices across the major live TV streaming services:
  • SlingTV - $25/month for "Orange and Blue" with limited-time discount

  • Hulu With Live TV - $44.99/month

  • PS Vue - $49.99/month for "Access" tier

  • YouTube TV - $49.99/month

  • DirecTV Now - $50/month for "Plus" and "Live a Little"

  • FuboTV - $54.99/month for "Standard"
With its $5/month hike today, PS Vue now matches entry level plans offered by DirecTV Now and YouTube TV. This allows Hulu With Live TV to take the mantle as the cheapest entry-level live TV streaming service (for now).


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iOS 13 Will Turn Your iPhone into a Mobile PS4 Thanks to DualShock 4 Support and the Remote Play App

Apple this week announced that iOS 13 and iPadOS will introduce full support for Sony's DualShock 4 controller, which is the main game controller for the PlayStation 4. This announcement, along with confirmation of Xbox One S controller support, is great for iOS gamers, but even more enticing thanks to Sony's existing Remote Play app for iOS.


Released in March, the Remote Play app [Direct Link] lets you connect your iPhone or iPad to your PS4 to stream and play games while away from your living room (but still on a Wi-Fi network, because the app doesn't support cellular connectivity). At launch, the app worked well and provided a sample of what it would be like to play games like Overwatch and Assassin's Creed: Odyssey on your iPhone, but the touchscreen controls and lack of full support for certain buttons on existing MFi controllers left many games nearly unplayable.

Now, with iOS 13 and DualShock 4 support, your iPhone or iPad will essentially be a portable PS4. You'll encounter all of the usual PS4-related controls, including full support for the console's dashboard, store, and user profiles. You can even allow it access to your iOS microphone to talk to your friends in a party or through game chat.

We used a DualShock 4 to play Kingdom Hearts 3 on the iOS 13 developer beta

There are some downsides to the Remote Play app, including the fact that some games are not compatible with it and won't let you stream or control the game from your iOS device. But, for the games that do support Remote Play, users will have a chance to play full console titles right from their iPhone.

DualShock 4 and Xbox One S controller support also have the ability to enhance other gaming apps, like the recently released Steam Link app for iOS. Valve's app lets you stream your Steam games to iPhone or iPad, as long as your mobile device and PC are on the same Wi-Fi network. Once connected, you can use your iOS device to play Steam games, many of which already support DualShock 4 and Xbox controllers.


Microsoft is working on a mobile streaming app of its own, which could come to iOS devices as well. But, as of now, Xbox One gamers have to look into third-party options for streaming to an iPhone or iPad, like the $11.99 OneCast app [Direct Link]. Similar to Sony Remote Play, OneCast streams Xbox One games to iOS devices that are connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Besides iOS 13 and iPadOS, tvOS 13 is gaining support for the DualShock 4 and Xbox One S controller as well. Apple's support for these controllers will be timed alongside the release of Apple Arcade, an all-new subscription service for iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS that will present users with high-quality games that they can play on-demand while subscribing to the platform.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS
Tags: Sony, PS4

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Sony’s Upcoming Smart TVs to Receive AirPlay 2 and HomeKit in Summer 2019, Including $70,000 Model

Sony today announced that some of its upcoming smart TVs will support AirPlay 2 and HomeKit in summer 2019, including its A9G series of 4K OLED TVs, Z9G series of 8K LED TVs, and X950G series of 4K LED TVs.


The TVs themselves will be released on a staggered basis, starting with the X950G series in late April and followed by additional models in May and June, including a 98-inch 8K TV for a whopping $70,000. AirPlay 2 and HomeKit will presumably be rolled out in a subsequent software update.

Apple also lists Sony's upcoming X850G series of 4K TVs in its AirPlay 2–enabled TVs list, but no timeframe for those features was provided for that model.

AirPlay 2 support will allow users to stream videos, music, photos, and more directly from an iPhone, iPad, and Mac to compatible Sony smart TVs, complete with lock screen controls. HomeKit support will enable users to easily control the TVs using Siri voice commands or the Home app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.


Samsung, LG, and Vizio are also releasing AirPlay 2-enabled smart TVs this year. Earlier this month, we went hands-on with one of Vizio's compatible models.


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Review: Sony’s WH-1000XM3 Headphones are the Best Noise-Canceling Cans You Can Get

Sony threatened to topple the apple cart in 2016 when it unleashed its flagship MDR-1000X cans on a headphones market which up until then had been dominated by Bose in the premium travel-grade noise-canceling department.


Combining excellent wireless sound with active NC that made even QuietComfort fans sit up and take notice, Sony's awkwardly named headset proved that the Japanese company's extensive acoustic R&D had finally hit on a winner, giving rival NC headphone makers due cause for worry in the process.

Unsurprisingly, Sony has sought to improve upon this winning formula in the intervening years, starting with another tongue-twisting rebrand of its flagship range (the inexplicably named WH-1000X series) and two follow-up models boasting incremental improvements, both of which have been well received.

What's perhaps more surprising about these developments is Bose's lack of response to them, having released in that time only a tweaked version of its flagship QC35 cans with support for Google Assistant. Whether that's down to complete confidence in the quality of its existing noise-canceling smarts or just lack of innovation is a moot point, given that Sony's adaptive NC technology and sonic prowess has essentially overtaken the company, as these latest cans exemplify.

The WHX-1000XM3's are essentially an upgrade to last year's 1000XM2's, featuring a series of minor improvements that Sony believes collectively justify a new model number. Let's take a look at them and see just how far the company's noise-canceling range has come.

Design


On the face of it, Sony's WH-1000XM3 headphones boast the same design signature of previous 1000X models. They're available in two understated colors – beige and black – and the ear cups swivel inwards so they pack up neatly in the supplied carry case. The only distinctive marks on the outside of each cup remain the minimal Sony logos and tiny microphone grilles, although they have picked up some neat brass-colored accents.

Sony WH-1000XM3 (left) beside original MDR-1000X headphones

A closer look reveals more notable differences though. Gone is the exposed steel headband, which is now concealed between the adjustable slats under thicker, more comfortable padding than on previous models. The foam urethane ear pads are also slightly larger and cushier, and allow for a deeper ear space inside.

The most obvious ergonomic shift to occur however is in terms of weight. The XM3's are 22 grams lighter than the XM2's (and 10 grams lighter than Bose's QC35 II's) which might not sound like much, but after wearing them for several hours straight it does make a real difference.

Sony WH-1000XM3 (left) beside original MDR-1000X headphones

Like previous cans in the WH-1000X range, the two buttons on the left ear cup control power and noise-canceling/ambient sound features, making blind selection a lot easier than the indistinctive three-buttoned affair on the original MDR-1000X cans. As before, the power button can be quickly pressed for a battery level update, and a long press activates the pairing sequence, while software-based options let you change the function of the ambient sound/NC button (more on those later). Unfortunately, the blue LED next to the power button still continually flashes during operation, which can be vaguely annoying if you're wearing them in the dark.

Sony has also switched up the connectivity in this model: The microUSB port on the right ear cup is gone, replaced with a more up-to-date USB-C connection (the charging cable terminates in USB-A). One thing that hasn't changed is Sony's love for gesture controls: The right ear cup has a touch-sensitive back that responds to taps and swipes to control music playback, skip tracks, change volume, and invoke your preferred virtual assistant. Like most modern headphone gesture pads, it can also be used to take calls. The good news is that the material Sony is now using to coat the pads is a little smoother, which makes the gestures in general a lot more responsive than models past, so kudos for that.

Performance and Features


As we mentioned at the start of this review, Sony pulled something special out of the bag when it released its MDR-1000X headphones, which boasted next-level noise cancelation previously only achieved by the likes of Bose. With the 1000XM3's, Sony has somehow done it again and made these cans four times more effective at damping down sounds from the outside world than the 1000XM2's. After plenty of testing, we can state that they consistently outperform Bose's flagship headphones when it comes to killing external noise in a range of environments and use cases.


This stepwise improvement is partly to do with the ambient sound controls being more flexible and a little smarter than previous models. Fire up the Sony Headphones Connect app and you can manually drag a slider that changes the degree of noise-cancelation, allowing you to select maximum isolation, wind noise reduction, or choose from among 20 levels of varying ambient attenuation. It's great for finding your ideal NC range while you're stationary, but you can also switch to adaptive sound control when you're on the move and the built-in QN1 processor will do just as good a job, automatically adjusting its corresponding inverted frequencies to block out whatever environmental sounds come your way.

As before, the headphones make low-frequency sounds like jet engines and traffic swiftly melt away, but Sony has also improved its proprietary chip in this model to attenuate high-frequency sounds like voices. That doesn't mean you won't hear when someone shouts at you from the other side of the room, but it does make short work of background chatter in a busy coffee shop. On the flip side, the Focus on Voice feature is much better than its earlier incarnation. It aims to let you hear in on important announcements – when you're waiting to be called to a boarding gate, say – while still allowing you to enjoy your music in relative quiet. The old Voice mode had patchy performance and often failed to filter out other ambient sounds, but the WH-1000MX3's are much more discriminating in this regard.


The QN1 chip doesn't just excel at controlled NC either. Sony has also thrown in an onboard DAC and an analog amplifier, along with 32-bit audio signal processing and support for reproducing the full range of frequencies up to 40 kHz. Those smarts allow the cans to consistently deliver a higher signal-to-noise ratio and lower distortion, and allowed me to enjoy clear, crisp audio in all of the supported AAC (iPhone), aptX/aptX HD (Mac/Android), SBC (everything) and LDAC wireless codecs. The mid-range remains wonderfully balanced and the highs sparkle on instrumental tracks, while a powerful yet controlled bass provides a solid foundation.

You'd be forgiven for thinking all the tech in these cans would inevitably be a power drain, but Sony impresses by eking out 30 hours of wired/wireless battery life on a single charge, and you can get five hours' worth of charge after just 10 minutes connected to a power outlet with the optional AC adapter (as opposed to 70 minutes on the WH-1000XM2's). That gave me oodles of time to play with the additional app features, including the sound position controls that let you change the perceived directional source of your audio, not to mention the welcome surround sound modes and EQ sliders.


Digging deeper into the software controls, it's now possible to adjust the automatic power-off feature, which is activated when no audio signal is detected. You can even turn it off, which is super-convenient if you just want to have NC active without listening to audio. You can also optionally change the function of the NC/ambient button on the left ear cup to activate Google Assistant, Siri, and (most recently added) Alexa. It's a neat way to quickly ask general queries, but it also means you can use your virtual assistant of choice to play music and skip tracks on the fly.

Happily, Sony has also carried over all its popular features from previous models. The left ear cup still includes an NFC chip for fast pairing with compatible devices, while Sony's unique innovation in the NC space lives on: Hidden inside both ear cups are the same microphones that Sony's "personal NC Optimizer" uses to sample ambient noise and cancel out a wider range of sounds with corresponding inverted frequencies. Hold down the NC button, and the headphone speakers emit a series of tones that bounce back and forth between the mics to analyze the shape of your head, work out whether you have big hair, wear glasses, and so on.


Sony has actually tweaked the optimizer in this model to include atmospheric pressure, and I found it to work better during flights. This was easy to test thanks to another feature unique to the company's Sense Engine, called "Quick Attention." Cup your fingers over the right ear cup and the volume instantly lowers to let in the outside world – bring your hand back down and the music returns to its prior volume. It's genuinely useful for situations in which you'd usually have to take off the headphones – like when a flight attendant offers you refreshments.

As with previous models, the WH-1000XM3's pack one of the strongest Bluetooth connections I've come across in headphones, and consistently retain a connection in areas where rival Bluetooth headsets regularly falter. By default, the headphones automatically select the highest quality Bluetooth protocol available, but you can still manually switch the priority between most stable connection and highest audio quality, which is now done in the iOS app.

Before we wrap up, it's worth noting that, inexplicably, Sony's 1000X range still doesn't support dynamic switching between audio sources. Bose's QC35's have no trouble pairing with two devices and automatically switching between them based on which one is transmitting an audio signal, so it's baffling that the 1000XM3's lack this ability, and in our Bluetooth saturated age, it's hard to overstate just how convenient the feature is. Having to manually disconnect the 1000XM3's from your iPhone so that you can connect to your Mac and vice versa just feels clunky, yet Sony's cans had no trouble auto-pairing with the last known device whenever I turned them on.

Bottom Line


Sony's ability to continue improving its WH-1000X series of wireless headphones is largely thanks to its dedicated acoustics research, which currently leaves rival makers of premium noise-canceling cans with much work to do to get anywhere near the same quality.

The customizable and adaptive NC smarts prove Sony's tech has come on in leaps and bounds since the original MDR-1000X model, while improvements in battery life and sound quality make for a well-rounded listening experience. If the company can just take a leaf out of Bose's book and add dynamic device switching in the next version, they'll be virtually untouchable for a long while to come.

Pros
  • Best noise canceling in the business

  • Exceptional sound in both wired and wireless modes

  • Superb battery life

  • Improved design and touch controls

Cons
  • Lacks dynamic audio device switching

  • Flashing operating LED can be annoying


How to Buy


The Sony WH-1000MX3 headphones come in beige or black, cost $349.99, and can be ordered via the Sony website or on Amazon.
Note: Sony supplied the WH-1000MX3's to MacRumors for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tag: Sony

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PlayStation Vue for Apple TV Gains Multi-View Support for Watching Up to Four Live Shows at Once

Sony today announced that its PlayStation Vue app for the Apple TV has been updated with multi-view support, allowing users to watch up to four live channels on one screen.

The new PlayStation Vue feature for Apple TV comes just ahead of the NCAA March Madness season, with the goal of letting sports fans keep an eye on all of the ongoing games or mix and match live games with news or other TV programs.


Multi-view has long been available on the PlayStation 4, but prior to today it wasn't an option on the Apple TV platform.

PlayStation Vue is Sony's streaming TV service, offering live and on-demand content at prices starting at $44.99 per month. Sports packages start at $49.99 per month.

PlayStation Vue works on PlayStation consoles, the Apple TV, iOS devices through the PS Vue app, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Android mobile devices, PC, and Mac.


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Sony Releases Remote Play App to Control Your PS4 With iPhone or iPad

Sony today released a new app called "Remote Play" for iOS devices, after launching the same app on Android a few years ago. The app allows you to connect your iPhone or iPad to your PS4, and directly control both the console interface as well as most games through on-screen iOS touch controls [Direct Link].


To get everything set up, make sure your PS4 is updated to version 6.50 (which just began rolling out in the early hours of the morning). Then, download the PS4 Remote Play app from the iOS App Store, sign into your Sony account in the app, and allow it to search for your PS4. You'll need to be on a Wi-Fi network for this to work, as the app cannot be used via mobile networks.

Once connected, you'll see your PS4 home screen displayed on your iPhone, sitting above a row of touch controls that mimic the buttons on a DualShock 4 controller. If you tilt the iPhone to a horizontal orientation, the buttons will disappear until you tap on the display.


The app supports the ability to talk to your friends in a party or through game chat, but you'll have to allow it access to the iOS microphone. The app's controls include the DualShock 4's Share and Options buttons, as well as the central PlayStation logo that brings you back to the home screen.


You can browse around the PS4 and launch most games in the Remote Play app, but Sony does note that there are some games that will be incompatible with the app. Additionally, you can't directly connect the DualShock 4 to the iPhone to play games.

Sony has shown interest in iOS in the past, previously launching an app called "PlayLink", which enabled synchronous multiplayer gaming between the PS4 and iOS device. PlayLink games relied on the PS4, however, and iOS devices acted as extensions to the main events happening on the TV, including experiences like a mini-game collection, comedy quiz show, and hidden identity game.


There have also been apps like R-Play that have functionality similar to Sony's Remote Play app, allowing users to play their PS4 while not at home. R-Play costs $11.99 to download [Direct Link] while Sony's new Remote Play app is free to download [Direct Link].

Tags: Sony, PS4

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CES 2019: Sony Unveils New 6.9-Inch CarPlay Receiver With Improved Sound and Dedicated Voice Button

Sony today at CES 2019 introduced its latest aftermarket CarPlay receiver with improved sound quality and a dedicated voice button.

XAV-AX7000 Car AV Receiver

The new XAV-AX7000 has the same 6.95-inch capacitive touchscreen as the current XAV-AX5000, but features a higher-power 100W class-D amplifier for more impactful sound and a higher-power 5V pre-out for clearer sound with less distortion when the receiver is connected to an external amplifier, according to Sony.

By comparison, the XAV-AX5000 has a 55W class-D amplifier and a 2V pre-out.

Beyond the dedicated voice button, the design of the XAV-AX7000 is identical to the XAV-AX5000, including slim bezels with physical buttons for volume and playback controls, settings, and returning to the home screen. Both receivers have dual USB-A ports for wired CarPlay. Android Auto is also supported.

The rear chassis of the XAV-AX7000 is designed with space-saving single-DIN dimensions, according to Sony.

Like the XAV-AX5000, the XAV-AX7000 can be connected to a vehicle's rear-view camera with adjustable parking guidelines. Both receivers also have Bluetooth, SiriusXM compatibility, and boot approximately 2.5 times faster than Sony's lesser-end XAV-AX100 receiver after the vehicle is turned on.

Sony says the XAV-AX7000 will be available in North America starting in summer 2019, with pricing to be announced at a later date. The XAV-AX5000 retails for a suggested price of $399.99 in the United States.

Related Roundup: CarPlay
Tags: Sony, CES 2019

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Apple Shares List of AirPlay 2-Enabled Smart TVs From Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio

A few days ago, Apple announced that AirPlay 2–enabled smart TVs are coming soon from leading manufacturers, and we've since seen a series of announcements from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio at CES 2019.


Apple has now shared a list of AirPlay 2–enabled TVs announced to date:
  • LG OLED (2019)
  • LG NanoCell SM9X series (2019)
  • LG NanoCell SM8X series (2019)
  • LG UHD UM7X series (2019)
  • Samsung QLED Series (2019 and 2018)
  • Samsung 8 Series (2019 and 2018)
  • Samsung 7 Series (2019 and 2018)
  • Samsung 6 Series (2019 and 2018)
  • Samsung 5 Series (2019 and 2018)
  • Samsung 4 Series (2019 and 2018)
  • Sony Z9G Series (2019)
  • Sony A9G Series (2019)
  • Sony X950G Series (2019)
  • Sony X850G Series (2019 85", 75", 65" and 55" models)
  • Vizio P-Series Quantum (2019 and 2018)
  • Vizio P-Series (2019, 2018 and 2017)
  • Vizio M-Series (2019, 2018 and 2017)
  • Vizio E-Series (2019, 2018 and 2017)
  • Vizio D-series (2019, 2018 and 2017)
We've yet to see any AirPlay 2 announcements from smaller brands such as TCL, Hisense, Panasonic, or Toshiba.

AirPlay 2 support will allow users to stream video, audio, photos, and more directly from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to supported smart TVs. HomeKit support is also coming to many of these TVs, enabling users to control volume, playback, and more using Siri or the Home app on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

Samsung announced that its latest smart TVs are also getting an exclusive iTunes TV and movie app for accessing the storefront.

Apple is widely expected to launch a Netflix-esque streaming video service later this year, and AirPlay 2 support on leading smart TVs would make it easier for users to stream Apple's original content on the big screen without an Apple TV. Rumors suggest Apple could introduce the service within the first half of 2019.


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CES 2019: Sony’s Upcoming 4K and 8K TVs to Support AirPlay 2 and HomeKit

Starting later this year, Sony's new 2019 Z9G Series 8K LCDs, A9G Series OLED 4K TVs, and X950G 4K LCD TVs will support Airplay 2 and HomeKit protocols from Apple.

Other TV manufacturers, including Samsung, Vizio, and LG have also announced support for HomeKit and AirPlay 2 for their 2019 smart TV lineups. All of the major TV brands will support both, with the exception of Samsung. Samsung TVs support AirPlay 2 and will have an exclusive app for accessing iTunes content, but won't work with HomeKit.


With AirPlay 2 support, compatible Sony television sets will be able to stream videos, music, photos, and more right from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and multi-room audio across multiple AirPlay 2 devices will also be available.

Content AirPlayed on Sony television sets will be able to be controlled using the Lock screen widget or the Control Center of an iOS device. Users will be able to play, pause, fast-forward, rewind, and adjust volume on the TV when AirPlaying TVs, movies, and music.

With HomeKit and Siri integration, users will be able to control their TVs via Siri voice commands, using voice requests to do things like play specific TV shows on a specific television. The TVs will be present in the Home app, so Siri controls will also be available for doing things like turning on the TV or including the TV in a HomeKit scene.

Sony's television sets run an Android-based operating system with built-in Cast support from Google, which means users will be able to choose between using Google and Apple services.

AirPlay-compatible Sony television sets include the newly announced Z9G 8K TVs available in 98 and 85 inch sizes, the new A9G 4K OLED TVs available in 77, 65, and 55 inch options, and the new X950G 4K LCD TVs available in 55, 65, 75 and 85 inch sizes, all of which are set to launch in spring 2019. Sony says that AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support will launch for these TV sets "later this year."

Apple has added new details about the upcoming smart television integrations on its AirPlay website for those who want more information about its upcoming partnerships with TV manufacturers.


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