Q: I recently bought a third-generation Apple TV. I also have an AirPort Express and have subscribed to iTunes Match. I love the fact that I can play my library directly from the cloud to the Apple TV without having my laptop and NAS device on. However, what I would really like to do is AirPlay from the Apple TV to the AirPort Express which I could then put in the bedroom for late night headphone listening using a nice little headphone amp/DAC combo. I would be using my iPhone as a remote to control track selection but do not want to use the iPhone as the source device due to battery woes. Sadly, am I right in thinking that this functionality does not currently exist within Apple TV and that it is merely an AirPlay receiver rather than sender? Is there a work around that may get the same result?
A: Unfortunately, you are correct that the second- and third-generation Apple TV devices do not provide the ability to send audio to another AirPlay device. The original, first-generation Apple TV actually did provide this feature, but that model has been long discontinued and therefore does not support newer features such as iTunes Match.
The good news is that there have been reports suggesting that this feature may actually be coming in the next major Apple TV OS update; we’ve been informed that the version of the Apple TV OS that is currently in developer beta alongside iOS 6 in fact already includes this capability for both the second- and third-generation Apple TV models. It is expected that this will be released in the fall alongside iOS 6. Although it’s worth keeping in mind that features introduced in beta versions of software don’t always make it into the final release, Apple generally has a good track record regarding features that get revealed in developer betas.
While there aren’t any other workarounds that would involve the Apple TV, you may want to consider simply using your iPhone connected to an external power source such as a speaker dock or iPhone charger. This should alleviate any battery concerns; once fully charged, your iPhone will simply run from the external power source, bypassing the battery entirely, so doing this will not in any way shorten your battery life.