Astrophotonics is an emerging field that focuses on the development of photonic components for astronomical instrumentation. With ongoing advancements, astrophotonic solutions are already becoming an integral part of existing instruments. A recent example is the €60M ESO GRAVITY instrument at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, Chile, that makes heavy use of photonic components. We envisage far-reaching applications in future astronomical instruments, especially those intended for the new generation of extremely large telescopes and in space. With continued improvements in extreme adaptive optics, the case becomes increasingly compelling. The joint issue of JOSA B and Applied Optics features more than 20 state-of-the-art papers in diverse areas of astrophotonics. This introduction provides a summary of the papers that cover several important topics, such as photonic lanterns, beam combiners and interferometry, spectrographs, OH suppression, and coronagraphy.