After a long beta period, iOS 11.4 is now out in the world. It brings with AirPlay 2, stereo pairing for HomePod, Messages in iCloud, and more.

AirPlay 2

Originally announced at WWDC 2017, AirPlay 2 is Apple’s latest spec for streaming audio and video from an iOS device or Mac to compatible receivers. AirPlay 2 represents a major step forward for the technology, allowing you to play audio through multiple AirPlay 2 speakers at once.

Apple’s own HomePod speaker will gain support for AirPlay 2 and multi-room audio with iOS 11.4 as well, which will be required in order to update the HomePod’s software. Other speaker makers, including Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, and Libratone will be offering AirPlay 2-compatible speakers soon, as well as software updates to bring the technology to compatible older products as well.

Messages in iCloud

This one gets a big old Finally from me. Another feature originally announced back at WWDC 2017, Message in iCloud securely stores your Messages, be they iMessages or standard SMS texts, in iCloud, preserving and syncing your Messages history between your iOS and macOS devices.

In addition to keeping everything in sync, Messages in iCloud has a couple of other benefits. First, you only have to delete a message thread once. No more deleting on every individual device you have. Also, when setting up a new device, all of your messages will be there for you, whether or not you want to restore from a backup.

HomePod improvements

iOS 11.4 supports some new HomePod-specific improvements.

Also available with iOS 11.4 is the ability to link two HomePods as a stereo pair. This will allow an even larger soundscape for your audio, as well as more immersive audio for those of you who want to pair your HomePods with your Apple TV for use with your other entertainment.

You can now create and interact with calendar events using Siri on your HomePod as well.

Other updates

  • Teachers can now assign reading activities to their students in iBooks using the Schoolwork app
  • Fixes for CarPlay audio distortion
  • Fixes for problems encountered when trying to access files in Google Drive, Docs, and Gmail in Safari.

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