Sony Firmware Update Adds Support For AirPlay 2, HomeKit, To Select Smart TVs

Mike Wheatley

Sony this week began rolling out a major software update for some of its flagship 2018 and 2019 Smart TVs, introducing the Android 9 operating system and adding support for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit, as well as Dolby Atmos.


The update is being applied to Sony’s 2018 A9F and Z9F models, in addition to its 2019 A9G, Z9G, X950G and X850G TVs, it said. Sony confirmed that other TVs will not receive the update.

"A major software update is scheduled to begin December 2019 for your Android TV," Sony said in a statement to FlatPanelsHD. "The software update is being rolled out in stages and may not yet be available for your TV. If you enabled the Automatically check for update feature, a notification will appear on your TV when the update is available."

On the face of it Android 9 probably isn’t that big a deal, as the user interface is more or less the same as the earlier edition. There are a few tweaks though, such as a more streamlined settings menu and a mini-preview picture in the TV guide, albeit only for the 2019 models.

More interesting is Apple AirPlay 2, which allows users to wirelessly transfer video, music and other files from Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad to their TV. As for HomeKit, this allows the TV to appear on the Apple Home app, so iPhone and iPad users can control basic functions using their devices.

The Apple features are rapidly becoming a staple of high-end TVs, with brands including LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics and Vizio all adding support for them this year.

Dolby Atmos is a big one too. By supporting the feature, Sony TVs can now decode Dolby Atmos surround sound from various sources such as Netflix and other streaming apps. Audio can then be played back via the TV’s own speakers, or a separate soundbar or receiver.

Sony has also added support for “High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) 100/120Hz format for USB video playback” on its 2018 models, but not its 2019 TVs. FlatPanelsHD said this is likely because the older TVs actually have a “more capable chip” than the newer iterations.

Sony said the update is initially rolling out in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, but didn’t mention when it might come available to European users.