It's day one of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and this tech Super Bowl is already producing some big news. For example, Samsung unexpectedly announced that iTunes content would be appearing on its smart TVs starting this spring, despite its years-long legal battles with the Silicon Valley institution -- who also purportedly counts on Samsung for the display screens that go into its iPhones.
But while Samsung is perhaps South Korea's biggest tech export, hometown rival LG Electronics also makes iPhone displays for Apple -- and it's also getting an unprecedented level of integration with Apple products in the form of support for AirPlay 2, AirPlay Audio and HomeKit.
AirPlay is similar to Google's Chromecast tech, which allows you to "cast" something from your phone or tablet to a compatible TV that's on the same Wi-Fi network. But with a Chromecast, the phone doesn't send a media stream, instead giving the Chromecast an internet link to the content, like a YouTube video.
With AirPlay, the content is on your iPhone or iPad, and you stream it to your compatible TV. Since the video or audio are being played on your mobile device, it can drain its battery more quickly, but you get more privacy because the whole digital conversation takes place without leaving your home.
As its name suggests, AirPlay Audio is the format for music and podcasts. HomeKit, meanwhile, is Apple's ecosystem for smart devices that ranges from light bulbs to security cameras to sprinkler controllers. The advantage of these smart devices is that you can control them with an app, over the internet.
Forget to turn the heat off? Can't remember if you locked your front door? If you have a smart device controlling those things, you don't have to wait until you get home to fix the problem. And LG says that its 2019 smart TVs will now be a part of this HomeKit family.
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What can we expect from the new LG and Samsung TVs?
The company's announcement comes in the form of a brief tweet, so we don't have a lot of new info to report yet. But since it specifies 2019 TVs, the implication is that older LG displays won't be upgraded to add the new support. LG also has nothing to say about iTunes, so it appears that Samsung will have the edge in that department.
Presumably, if Samsung TVs are getting a form of iTunes, then they will also be getting AirPlay, as the two functions are closely tied wherever else iTunes is available in a streaming box, such as the Apple TV itself.
So far, however, AirPlay has required an Apple device to stream media to a display or speaker, whereas Samsung's newly announced iTunes support will probably be fully integrated into the company's TVs. However, verifying an iTunes purchase on a Samsung TV may still require an Apple device; consider this a developing story as we dig into the emerging details.
Either way, with the Apple TV starting at $149, making it more than twice as much as several credible competitors from Amazon and Roku -- not to mention it being a separate device from your TV -- integrating AirPlay and iTunes directly into popular television displays could help Apple restore some of the stock price value that it's lost in recent weeks.
Apple's new arrangements with LG and Samsung also help crystallize its long-rumored plans for a competitor to Netflix or Hulu.
- Hot on the heels of Samsung announcing the integration of iTunes into its TVs, rival LG Electronics says that Apple's AirPlay and HomeKit tech will be going into its own TVs in 2019.
- Both Samsung and LG purportedly make display panels for iPhones, so all three companies have collaborated before on devices. But this will be the first time that the trio has extended this partnership to Apple's streaming tech.
- These new developments from LG and Samsung may be related to launching Apple's rumored Netflix competitor.
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