Apple HomePod Launches in Canada June 18; iOS 11.4 Coming Today

Alfred Osborne
May 30, 2018

Apple has released iOS 11.4 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, adding the long-awaited support for Messages in iCloud and AirPlay 2.

AirPlay 2 makes HomePod a more competitive smart speaker, and a more user-friendly one. And if the HomePods are playing the wrong stereo channels (you know, as if you put your headphones on backwards), you can switch them in the Home app.

The new AirPlay 2 standard introduces multi-room audio playback support.

Apple on Tuesday has officially released iOS 11.4, the latest update to its mobile operating system. It was first announced at WWDC in 2017, so has taken a whole year to launch, but it will bring a number of notable improvements over the previous version.

The good news continues as the list of brands already signed up to support AirPlay 2 is impressive: Bang & Olufsen; Bluesound; Bose; Bowers & Wilkins; Definitive Technologies; Denon; Devialet; Dynaudio; Libratone; Marantz; McIntosh; Marshall; Naim; Pioneer; Polk; and Sonos.

Because speakers are configured via the Home app, they are easily assigned to rooms, and users can address those specific rooms when using Siri.

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While previously only Mac computers were capable of controlling multiple speakers through AirPlay, Apple's AirPlay 2 update gives iPhones this functionality as well. It didn't make it out in time for the HomePod's launch either, even though it was advertised as one of the main features.

Not only were these features first teased 12 months ago, they were part of several iOS 11 betas, but rescinded from final public software update each update.

iOS 11.4 is now available for the iPhone and iPad. First and foremost, iOS 11.4 adds "Messages on iCloud", which Apple first announced late previous year.

Anyway, as it turns out, there is a much more important feature in iOS 11.4 than AirPlay 2 stereo pairing. The feature will help reduce iMessages' impact on your iPhone's built-in storage by storing attachments and photos in iCloud.

HomePod will automatically update to support stereo pairs, unless auto updates are disabled in the Home app.

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