Just days before iOS 12 would be unveiled to the public, Apple fulfilled two promises made a year ago in iOS 11. Apple has announced that iOS 11.4 will be publicly released today with long-awaited support for AirPlay 2 and Messages in iCloud.
iOS 11.4 should be available over-the-air and through iTunes shortly after 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, likely alongside tvOS 11.4, macOS 10.13.5, and watchOS 4.3.1, following nearly two months of beta testing. A companion software update for HomePod will also be pushed out automatically and through the Home app.
iOS 11.4 includes AirPlay 2 multi-room audio, support for HomePod stereo pairs, and Messages in iCloud. This update also includes bug fixes and improvements. The software will enable multi-room audio with HomePods, Apple TVs, and other AirPlay 2-enabled speakers when they become available, including the Sonos One, Playbase, and Play:5, and models from Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, and Pioneer.
Messages in iCloud is also now available as part of iOS 11.4. This feature lets you keep messages across devices in sync sort of like modern email. If you delete a message on one device, it will go away on all your devices. And if you set up a new device from scratch, your messages will appear without needing to do a full restore from an iCloud backup, which is not the case right now. In simple explanation, the feature is designed to store your iMessages in iCloud rather than on each individual device, allowing for improved syncing capabilities.
The messaging feature will works on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac when running the latest software update. watchOS is curiously excluded so if you delete a message on another device it will not be immediately deleted on Apple Watch.
AirPlay 2 is available for all iOS devices and HomePod (no news on Mac support yet). The feature lets you stream lag-free music to AirPlay 2-compatible speakers and create multi-room speaker setups, Control your home audio system and AirPlay 2-enabled speakers throughout your house, Play music at the same time on multiple AirPlay 2-enabled speakers in your house, all in sync, Control AirPlay 2-enabled speakers from Control Center, the Lock screen, or AirPlay controls within apps on your iPhone or iPad, it allows you use your voice to control AirPlay 2-enabled speakers with Siri from your iPhone or iPad, HomePod, or Apple TV, and also allows you take a call or play a game on your iPhone or iPad without interrupting playback on your AirPlay 2-enabled speakers.
iOS 11.4 is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the update, go to Settings –> General –> Software Update. Eligible devices include the iPhone 5s and later, the iPad mini 2 and later, the iPad Air and later, and the 6th-generation iPod touch.