Earlier this afternoon, Apple released the latest update for the iOS software for your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and other compatible devices. iOS 11.4 finally adds support for iMessages in iCloud, along with a few other new features. Among these, are updates for AirPlay 2 and the ability to have two HomePod speakers to work together as a stereo pair.
Support for iMessages in iCloud was first announced at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in 2017. The intention of this feature is to give users the capability to keep their conversations up-to-date across all of their devices, including iPhone, Mac, iPad, and Apple Watch. With this, you’ll be able to access your entire iMessages history from any device. For example, if you delete a message from your iPhone, then that change will apply to your Apple Watch as well. It’s a more universal way of managing your messages and keeping things organized.
In addition, if you’re one of those who hoards all your messages, then you’ll now be able to store them without worrying about running out of storage. Previously, your entire conversation could take up gigabytes of storage due to the attachments, videos, photos, etc. that are sometimes sent with these messages. Now, all of it will be stored in iCloud, freeing up a ton of local space for other, more important things… Like downloads, videos, or more photos. No more of those annoying messages.
And you don’t have to worry about your messages being hacked into from iCloud. iMessages are end-to-end encrypted and protected with a key derived from information unique to the device. Anyone else trying to access your messages will find themselves having trouble.
With the introduction of Apple’s AirPlay 2, you will be able to stream your music or podcasts in your home to different devices, all synced. For example, you can play a song in your room, and then you can play the same song on another compatible device (i.e. HomePod, Apple TV) in a different room, say the kitchen. It’s perfect for a house of different tastes; classic rock playing the man cave downstairs, while pop plays upstairs in the kitchen, while techno plays in daughter’s room. There are endless possibilities.
A bunch of speaker manufacturers–like Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, Pioneer, and Sonos–are committing to support AirPlay 2, making it easier to use this feature throughout your home.
You will now also be able to add another Apple HomePod device to any room to create a stereo pair, automatically balancing each other out to make a left and right channel. This feature will let the HomePods sort of communicating with each other so that they can determine the best sound depending on how you set them up in the room you’ve chosen.