Apple has today released iOS 11.4 and updated HomePod software to the public.
Today's releases finally mark the roll-out of two features which have been promised in iOS 11 since it was announced in June of last year - Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2.
Messages in iCloud brings much improved message syncing, meaning that deleting a message on one device will also remove it from any other devices that use the same Apple ID. When setting up a new device, all of your existing messages will be available. Additionally, older messages and attachments are stored in iCloud rather than locally on your device, so should free up storage space.
With AirPlay 2, the same audio content can be played in multiple rooms on devices that support AirPlay 2. 9to5mac offers a little more on what this and support for stereo will bring:
With multiroom, users can play the same music on their Apple TV, HomePod and (soon) Sonos speakers all in sync. You can also use Siri on the iPhone to start playing content on another device, like asking Siri to ‘play [album name] in the kitchen’ and then say ‘also play this upstairs’. This relies on tight integration with HomeKit rooms and zones.
Stereo pairing allows customers with two HomePods to join them together, and act as a group. This enables stereo audio separation for tracks and making the sound better fill a space. Apple uses special algorithms to balance the music, so it’s more than just a naive split of left and right sound tracks.
HomePod users will see version 11.4 of the HomePod software released today, and according to The Verge brings one further change of note to Apple's smart speaker:
The HomePod 11.4 software update will now support calendar queries via Siri. You can ask when you have scheduled events, and add a new meeting. This works with any calendar set up in the paired iPhone’s Calendar app. It relies on the same Personal Requests system as reminders, notes and messages.
The new HomePod software will be installed automatically on the HomePod after you update to iOS 11.4, but you can also manually update and check your software version by following the instructions in Macrumors' guide.
iOS 11.4 also introduces a new ClassKit framework, which adds support for new tools and applications for schools and students announced at Apple's March 27 education-focused event.
At the time of posting, we are unaware of any changes, improvements or regressions for blind or low vision users in iOS 11.4. However, as we always stress, it is impossible for us to test all devices; configurations; and use cases—so there may be improvements or regressions that we did not identify during the beta cycle. With this in mind, please do let us know in the comments of any fixes; enhancements; or regressions that you find in your own testing of iOS 11.4.
iOS 11.4 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings > General > Software Update) or via iTunes on a Mac or PC.