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Apple AirPlay upgrade to be introduced alongside new iPhone

Apple may be preparing to release a new version of its AirPlay streaming feature that would work without a Wi-Fi network, the Telegraph has reported, citing sources “familiar” with Apple’s plans.

According to the newspaper, the company is developing something tentatively called “AirPlay Direct”, which would improve its existing wireless streaming technology by allowing users to send music to their speakers or hi-fi systems simply by using one of Apple’s mobile devices - an iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Those devices would reportedly form their own networks, enabling music to be played wirelessly over direct, non-Wi-Fi connections.

Apple’s AirPlay feature was introduced in 2010, replacing the company’s AirTunes wireless technology. It’s not just for music, though - users can also send video over-the-air from an iOS device or a Mac running Mountain Lion to an Apple TV.

The feature should be announced at the same time as the expected 12 September launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone, which is rumoured to boast a larger screen, thinner body, and significantly smaller dock connector.

However, for the time being, AirPlay Direct is just the latest in a steady stream of Apple rumours, the Telegraph acknowledged. “Apple has not signed off any specific products yet and that the ‘AirPlay Direct’ is a working title rather than a definite name,” it admitted, adding that an Apple spokesperson had declined to comment on the speculation.

In June, Google unveiled the Nexus Q, a media player with functionality similar to AirPlay and that looks poised to help the search giant compete with Apple in the entertainment arena. Since the announcement, however, production of the device has stalled, and there’s no word yet on when - or whether - it will hit shelves.