Some smart home aficionados still eulogize Google’s Chromecast Audio, but Belkin’s new Soundform Connect aims to fulfill a similar role — for iOS users, anyway. The $100 dongle can connect to any traditional home speaker and turn it into an AirPlay 2-compatible smart speaker you can cast audio to from iPhones and iPads running iOS 11.4 and iPadOS 11.4 or newer, plus Macs running Catalina and Apple TVs with tvOS 11.4.
And when we “any” home speaker, we really mean it. The Soundform has at least one nice touch the Chromecast doesn’t — beyond still existing, that is. In addition to the classic 3.5mm jack, there’s also a port for standard optical connections — the Chromecast Audio required audiophiles to own or purchase a TOSLINK-to-3.5mm adapter.
According to Belkin, users will able to ask Siri to play their music or podcasts on the speaker in question, as well as ask the virtual assistant what’s playing in each room and remotely control the speaker’s volume. And beyond that, the addition of AirPlay 2 means you’ll be able to assign the speaker in question to specific rooms and tie them into home automation schemes from inside Apple’s Home app. Is that level of functionality really worth $100? We’ll let you know once we take one for a spin, but keep your eyes peeled if you’re already sold on the concept — Belkin says the Soundform Connect will be available from “select retailers” soon.