Apple has released iOS 11.4 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch today. The new update finally brings AirPlay 2 to iOS devices, along with HomePod stereo pairing functionality and multi-room audio. If that wasn’t enough, iOS 11.4 finally gets Messages in iCloud too. How’s that for a huge release with a lot of delayed features?
The update size is a little over 300MB. You can download iOS 11.4 as an over-the-air software update by going to Settings > General > Software Update on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Alternatively, you can also connect your iOS device to a Mac or Windows PC, and update via iTunes. You can also download iOS 11.4 IPSW files to manually update your device.
Messages in iCloud
Messages in iCloud was announced at WWDC 2017. Since then, this feature had been playing hide and seek in beta builds. Despite being available in iOS 11 during beta testing, it was removed from the GM build. Apple again included Messages in iCloud in iOS 11.4 beta releases and have finally found it worthy enough for a general roll-out.
As the name suggests, this feature enables syncing of messages transcripts between iPhone, iPad and Mac. If you delete a message from one device, it will be deleted from other devices too. Note that you also need macOS 10.13.5 on your Mac to use Messages in iCloud.
What’s new with AirPlay 2?
AirPlay 2 is a big deal. With this upgrade to Apple’s popular protocol, iOS devices treat streaming audio differently from on-device audio. You can take a call or watch videos on your device without disrupting streaming audio from the same iOS device to a HomePod or Apple TV. Think of it as different audio channels for different devices. Multiroom audio from iOS to HomePod or other AirPlay 2 compatible speakers is also made possible with this update.
AirPlay 2 is not restricted to just HomePods. Users will also be able to control music playback using Siri, on upcoming AirPlay 2 compatible speakers from Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, Pioneer and Sonos. These speakers will support the same stereo pairing and multi-room audio features as HomePod.
Apple has also added calendar support for Siri on HomePod. Siri still cannot recognize your voice, so your device needs to be connected to the same WiFi network for this feature to work.
Nilay from The Verge asked Apple regarding HomePod support for Apple TV, however there was no response.
Update HomePod to iOS 11.4
To update HomePod, open the Home app on your iOS device which is signed in with the same Apple ID that you used to setup HomePod. Tap the compass icon on the top left of the app and go to Software Update and tap install. If you have multiple HomePods, all of them will be updated.
Make sure to turn on Install Updates Automatically toggle so you do not have to repeat this process manually with future software updates.
Apple has also announced that HomePod will be available in Canada, France and Germany from June 18.