Just days before iOS 12 is unveiled to the public, Apple is fulfilling two promises made a year ago in iOS 11. First announced earlier this morning, iOS 11.4 is now available for iPhone and iPad. The new update includes AirPlay 2, HomePod stereo pairing, Messages in iCloud, and more.

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iOS 11.4 is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models capable of running iOS 11. The update introduces AirPlay 2, the next-gen version of Apple’s media streaming technology, which reduces latency and supports multi-room playback from iOS for the first time. Check out our coverage so far for more details:

Messages in iCloud is also now available as part of iOS 11.4. This feature lets you keep messages across devices in sync sort of like modern email. If you delete a message on one device, it will go away on all your devices. And if you set up a new device from scratch, your messages will appear without needing to do a full restore from an iCloud backup.

This feature works on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac when running the latest software update. watchOS is curiously excluded so if you delete a message on another device it will not be immediately deleted on Apple Watch.

Today’s iOS update is also required before updating HomePod to its latest software update. Through the update, HomePod becomes an AirPlay 2 speaker, gains the ability to pair in stereo, and gains Calendar support. iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus also gain a new wallpaper first shown off with the Product(RED) model, but iPhone X users won’t see this offered.

Now on to iOS 12 beta in just a few days… :-) Release notes follow:

iOS 11.4

iOS 11.4 includes AirPlay 2 multi-room audio, support for HomePod stereo pairs, and Messages in iCloud. This update also includes bug fixes and improvements.

AirPlay 2

  • Control your home audio system and AirPlay 2-enabled speakers throughout your house
  • Play music at the same time on multiple AirPlay 2-enabled speakers in your house, all in sync
  • Control AirPlay 2-enabled speakers from Control Center, the Lock screen, or AirPlay controls within apps on your iPhone or iPad
  • Use your voice to control AirPlay 2-enabled speakers with Siri from your iPhone or iPad, HomePod, or Apple TV
  • Take a call or play a game on your iPhone or iPad without interrupting playback on your AirPlay 2-enabled speakers

HomePod stereo pair

  • This update supports setting up your HomePod stereo pair using your iPhone or iPad
  • HomePod pair automatically senses its location in the room and balances the sound based on the speakers’ locations
  • Advanced beamforming provides wider soundstage than traditional stereo pair
  • HomePod will automatically update to support stereo pairs, unless auto updates are disabled in the Home app

Messages in iCloud

  • Store your messages, photos, and other attachments in iCloud and free up space on your devices
  • All your messages appear when you sign into a new device with the same iMessage account
  • When you delete messages and conversations they are instantly removed from all your devices
  • To turn on Messages in iCloud, enable Messages in iCloud settings (Settings > [your name] > iCloud)
  • Your conversations continue to be end-to-end encrypted

Other improvements and fixes

  • Enables teachers to assign their students reading activities in iBooks using the Schoolwork app
  • Fixes an issue where certain character sequences could cause Messages to crash
  • Addresses a Messages issue that could cause some messages to appear out of order
  • Addresses an issue that could prevent logging in or accessing files on Google Drive, Google Docs and Gmail in Safari
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent data syncing in Health
  • Fixes an issue that could prevent users from changing what apps can access Health data
  • Resolves an issue that could cause an app to appear in an incorrect location on the Home screen
  • Fixes an issue where CarPlay audio could become distorted
  • Fixes an issue where selecting music from your iPhone could fail when playing music over Bluetooth or when connected to USB on some vehicles

For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website:

https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222

HomePod 11.4

iOS 11.4 includes AirPlay 2 multi-room audio and support for stereo pairs.

  • Place two HomePod in the same room and create a stereo pair
  • Each HomePod in a pair automatically senses its location in the room
  • Advanced beamforming provides wider soundstage than traditional stereo pair
  • Use AirPlay 2 to play the same song everywhere or different songs in different rooms to multiple HomePod and other AirPlay 2-enabled speakers
  • Schedule, cancel, and stay up to date with your Calendar appointments (available in US, UK, Australia)

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