Apple’s iOS 12 is not that far from release, but in the meantime iOS 11.4 is out and available to download. The new update offers the two long awaited features, promised by Apple last year: AirPlay 2 and iMessage in iCloud.
AirPlay 2 is all about multiroom audio, and it also brings stereo-dual HomePod music playback to HomePods. It increases network buffer, allowing music to play even when the network glitches, as well as allowing music to continue streaming even if you receive a call or consume other media on your phone like video or games. AirPlay 2 can also be accessible on Apple TV, and can be controlled through iPhones and iPads, which is quite an evolution considering it was formerly restricted to Mac only.
Another crucial feature is the addition of Messages in iCloud. Now, where on one end, it allows us to get easy access to sync and delete old messages across all devices, it also takes up unnecessary space by restoring all the previous and sometimes irrelevant messages.
As far as improvements with Siri on the HomePod, Apple is adding calendar support which will give Siri access to read out information regarding your important events and meetings as well as add new events to your calendar.
Many third-party companies have announced support for AirPlay 2, including Bose, Pioneer, Sonos, Bang & Olufsen and Bowers & Wilkins. However, there is a big problem. Most smart speakers can connect to music streaming services because they are connected to the internet. AirPlay requires that your iOS device essentially act as a streaming hub for devices connecting music services rather than speakers.
Overall, the iOS 11.4 update brings much needed new features and brings the HomePod on parity with offerings from Amazon and Google. Unfortunately, outside of access to Calendar events, Siri is still the same although perhaps Apple will unveil updates to Siri in next week’s WWDC 2018. The iOS 11.4 update is available now for download