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If the late 2018 deal that brought Apple Music to Amazon Echo speakers wasn’t surprising enough, Samsung today announced a similar partnership with Apple for 2018 and 2019 Samsung Smart TVs. Support for iTunes movies, iTunes TV shows, and AirPlay 2 will be coming in spring 2019.
The deal is all but unprecedented for Apple, which has historically restricted playback of iTunes videos to its own devices, including Apple TVs, iPods, iPhones, iPads, and Macs, with no support for competing media players, such as Roku, or various smart TV platforms. That said, PCs running iTunes have been able to play iTunes videos, and the company has allowed third parties to license both AirPlay and AirPlay 2 for years.
According to Samsung, a firmware update to 2018 Smart TVs will add a new iTunes Movies and TV Shows app in more than 100 countries. AirPlay 2 will become available on Samsung Smart TVs in 190 countries around the world.
“We look forward to bringing the iTunes and AirPlay 2 experience to even more customers around the world through Samsung Smart TVs,” said Apple Internet Software and Services SVP Eddy Cue, “so iPhone, iPad, and Mac users have yet another way to enjoy all their favorite content on the biggest screen in their home.”
In addition to playing a user’s existing iTunes library, the new app will include Apple’s iTunes Store, so customers can buy and rent content, notably including 4K HDR videos that previously could only be streamed on the Apple TV 4K. Apple will integrate the app “seamlessly” with Samsung’s Universal Guide, Bixby, and Search, while AirPlay 2 will let Apple devices stream not only audio but also videos, photos, and other content — possibly screen mirroring — directly to Samsung’s TVs.
Apple’s relationship with Samsung has been contentious in the past, notably due to longstanding allegations that the larger Samsung company was cloning iPhone and iPad design elements while its smaller business units supplied the same devices’ key components. However, Apple continued to rely upon Samsung for parts, including OLED screens, and the companies settled their seven-year legal dispute in 2018. It remains to be seen whether Apple is giving Samsung a leg up on other smart TV rivals or whether iTunes videos apps and AirPlay 2 support will make even more appearances on competing devices at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 this week.
Leading TV manufacturers are integrating AirPlay 2 directly into their TVs, so now you can effortlessly share or mirror almost anything from your iOS device or Mac directly to your AirPlay 2–enabled smart TV. You can even play music on the TV and sync it with other AirPlay 2–compatible speakers anywhere in your home.
Apple also says that Siri will soon be able to direct iPhone videos to HomeKit and AirPlay 2-capable TVs.
With AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, you can use Siri on your iPhone to send a video to your TV. Better yet, ask Siri to play a specific show in a specific room.
There’s clearly more to this initiative than just an Apple-Samsung partnership. We’ll be on the lookout for similar announcements from other smart TV makers during CES.
Updated on January 7, 2019 at 9:50 a.m. Pacific: As expected, additional TV makers LG and Vizio have also announced support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit in select 2019 smart television sets. Unlike Samsung, however, neither company has announced an iTunes videos app as of yet.
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