iOS 11.4 arrives today, and with it, a bunch of welcome upgrades. The biggest updates here are, unsurprisingly, on the streaming media front, including the arrival of AirPlay 2, and the long awaited ability to pair up two HomePods for some stereo music living room listening.
Among other things, AirPlay 2 brings with it improved multi-room audio, so users can seamlessly move songs from one room to the next or just play the same music in all rooms at once on any iOS device, Apple TV or HomePod, via Siri. You can also play different music in every room, with requests like “Hey Siri, play Crowded House in the kitchen,” which should be a nice addition for families.
There are also a number of third party manufacturers on board for AirPlay 2, meaning you’ll be able to use Siri to control music on speakers from some top names, including, Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, Pioneer and Sonos. Of course, from the sound of things, the system, naturally, works best with Apple’s own smart speaker.
The other big addition is the ability to pair HomePods. It’s something that Apple’s been promising since the early days of the smart speaker, and now it’s finally available as a free software update — for those who can afford to shell out for two $ 349 speakers, that is.
Once paired, the speakers rely on the A8 chip to sync and split the left and right stereo channels between the two devices. The speakers will recognize one another during setup and ask the user whether they want to form a stereo pair.
Speaking of the HomePod, the company also announced this morning that its smart speaker will be available in Canada, France and Germany on June 18.