Apple to reportedly unveil new ‘AirPlay Direct’ feature next month

Citing sources familiar with Apple’s plans, a new report is out today claiming that the Cupertino company is looking to launch a new version of its popular AirPlay feature next month, called AirPlay Direct.

What’s the difference? Well, as it stands, the current version of AirPlay requires an active Wi-Fi network. But AirPlay Direct, however, allows for a direct connection to a device, without the need for Wi-Fi…

The Telegraph reports:

“Sources familiar with the iPhone-maker’s plans said that Apple wants to improve the AirPlay wireless music streaming technology, which currently requires AirPlay speakers and a WiFi network. The new version will require just speakers or a hifi and an iDevice; the iPhone, iPod or iPad would form its own network to allow a direct connection and music playback.

The move is expected to be announced at the launch of the new iPhone, which is widely rumoured to take place on September 12.”

The move makes some sense given Apple’s recent efforts to help users cut the cord — last year it introduced Wi-Fi Sync in iOS 5 for connecting wirelessly to iTunes. It’s also interesting considering recent rumors that point to all next-gen iOS devices getting a dock connector makeover.

If true, this would be great news for accessory-makers, who have, up until this point, been somewhat timid of Apple’s AirPlay tech due to its dependency on Wi-Fi. It could also mean big things in the way of AirPlay gaming, which is currently at the mercy of a user’s internet speed and router quality.

But, as this is the first we’ve heard of AirPlay Direct, we’re going to be filing this one away in the rumor folder. It wouldn’t surprise us in the least bit, though, to see Apple update the wireless platform this fall.