In a slightly surprising move, Apple released a firmware update for 2012 802.11n AirPort Express models, adding support for AirPlay 2.
The new firmware (version 7.8), can be downloaded and installed to compatible AirPort Express models via the AirPort Utility app for iOS devices.
After downloading the firmware update, AirPort Express users have reported being able to target the AirPort Express right alongside other AirPlay 2 devices when running iOS 11.4.1 or iOS 12. With the AirPlay 2 update, 2012 AirPort Express models offer support for multi-room audio and are able to work with other AirPlay 2 devices such as the HomePod, the Apple TV, and Sonos speakers.
The AirPort Express has shown up as an AirPlay 2-compatible accessory in the Home app in recent betas of Apple’s upcoming iOS 12 mobile operating system. This implied Apple was readying an update for the device.
The move is slightly surprising, as Apple announced in April that it was discontinuing its entire AirPort wireless router lineup. The AirPort Express is no longer available for purchase.