IOS 11.4 brings a long awaited messaging feature

HomePod iPhone X iPad and Apple TV lined

iOS 11.4 brings stereo pairs and multi-room audio with AirPlay 2

What's new in HomePod 11.4? Once you've done this, the iPhone's Home app will ask you if you want to "create stereo pair" when two HomePods are plugged in and activated in the same room. Messages in iCloud stores all iMessages in Apple's cloud storage rather than on each individual device. Let's discuss each in detail... In short, thanks to this iOS update, those who shelled out for a HomePod when it first launched will finally get something approaching what they paid for. Unlike stereo pairing, AirPlay 2 is not a HomePod exclusive.

Use your voice to control AirPlay 2-enabled speakers with Siri from your iPhone, iPad, HomePod or Apple TV. AirPlay 2 devices will now show up in the Apple Home app, since AirPlay 2 integrates with HomeKit.

AirPlay 2 controls are available across iOS within any app and in Control Center for quick access to what's playing in every room, on every speaker. Eventually, third-party connected speaker companies will also be adding AirPlay 2 support so that their devices will be able to join the multi-room party. For HomePod, AirPlay 2 features are automatically supported and music can be streamed around the house without the need to manually group speakers.

The other big flagship feature is a HomePod exclusive - stereo pairing. It didn't make it out in time for the HomePod's launch either, even though it was advertised as one of the main features. In other words, there's very little end-user configuration needed once a stereo pair is established.

Advanced beamforming provides wider soundstage than traditional stereo pair. It's too early for me to come to any concrete conclusions, but the sound quality is definitely impressive. To test this I used some recordings that use hard left and right pans-such as the beginning of "Break On Through" by the Doors-so that certain sounds should emit loudly from a "left" speaker but not at all from the "right" and vice versa. A single HomePod sounds great, but two playing in ideal sync sounds noticeably fuller.

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