After seeding the first beta of iOS 11.4 in early April, Apple has released the final version of the OS. This is the last release of iOS 11 before Apple gets around to unveiling iOS 12 at WWDC 2018 next week.
Unlike iOS 11.3 which brought with it a number of new features to the table, iOS 11.4 comes with a handful of them. It focuses primarily on enhancing the overall audio capabilities of iOS and also adds some features announced long before by the company.
What’s New in iOS 11.4
Messages on iCloud
Apple had first mentioned about Messages on iCloud when it had unveiled iOS 11 at WWDC last year. 12 months later and after pulling the feature from a beta release, the company is finally getting around to releasing the feature for good. The feature will keep your Messages history synced across your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. So apart from your chat history being in sync, it also means that any message you delete from your iPhone will automatically be deleted from your other iOS and macOS devices as well.
If you are a heavy iMessage user, this feature is going to be extremely handy for you as all your messages will now be stored in iCloud instead of being stored locally. Messages on iCloud are end-to-end encrypted so there’s no compromise from a security aspect here as well.
Apple is also releasing AirPlay 2 as a part of iOS 11.4 which it claims is the “most advanced, wireless multi-room audio system.” It will allow iPhone and iPad owners to easily stream music or podcasts to any HomePod or AirPlay 2-compatible speaker in their home in sync. Apple is integrating AirPlay 2 support in the Control Center for quick access so you can easily select the playback speaker from there. You can also ask Siri to play music on a particular speaker placed in a certain room, a group of rooms, and more.
Apart from HomePod, Siri will also be able to control all AirPlay 2-compatible speakers with ease. The Apple TV is also AirPlay 2 compatible so you will be able to use Siri to playback movies and TV shows on your Apple TV as well.
You will also be able to take calls on your iPhone or iPad without interrupting playback on any of the AirPlay 2 speakers.
Multi-Room Audio and Stereo Mode for HomePod
iOS 11.4 also brings multi-room audio and stereo mode to the HomePod. The feature will allow HomePod owners to pair the speaker with another HomePod for multi-room audio and stereo support. With two HomePod speakers combined, users would be able to get an even wider soundstage and a more room-filling sound. The speakers will communicate with each other over an Apple-designed wireless peer-to-peer direct link so as to play music in complete sync. Apple says when in stereo mode, two HomePods would be able to provide an “almost three dimensional soundstage.”
A prompt to set up stereo mode will automatically show up when you place the secondary HomePod in your room. Apple also ensures that despite there being two HomePods in one room, only one responds to your Siri requests.
Calendar Appointment Support for HomePod
As previously reported, Apple has added calendar appointment support for Siri on the HomePod. This means you would be able to use Siri on the HomePod to check your upcoming calendar appointments.
Other minor bug fixes and changes in iOS 11.4 as reported by Apple can be found below:
– 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
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