IOS 11.4 Adds Stereo Pairing to Air Play 2, HomePod Speaker

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Best of all, the Sonos One gives you access to Alexa, while the HomePod speaker is stuck with Siri.

Apple's developer showcase WWDC 2018 is coming up fast (it kicks off June 4), and should bring news of new developments for Siri, augmented reality and Apple's burgeoning arsenal of OSes (iOS 12, watchOS 5, tvOS 12 are among our favourite typographical challenges). You can also control multiple AirPlay 2-powered audio devices directly from Control Centre of your iOS device even through the lock screen.

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Apple has released iOS 11.4 for eligible iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch models. Any supported speakers that are connected to the Apple TV, be it a soundbar or speaker system, will become AirPlay 2 speakers. The difference now is that Apple has finally unlocked a couple of capabilities the smart speaker was sorely lacking: stereo pairing and multi-room audio.

Apple hasn't released sales figures for its speaker, but estimates say the HomePod holds about 3 percent of the overall market in the US, according to a February survey from investment firm Loup Ventures. Also, it is advisable to back up your data before beginning the update process. These include iPhone 5S and newer, iPad (2017), any iPad Air, any iPad Pro, and iPad Mini 2. Now, Apple has yet to announce which version of iTunes will be needed, but it's likely that both Macs and PCs will be able to act as a controller for AirPlay 2. AirPlay 2 is more restricted at launch. Brands like Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Sonos, etc are offering such speakers. This might change when Sonos enables Google Assistant support in the near future.

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Messages in iCloud have been coming soon for nearly a while now, and its good the firm is finally delivering on their promise. Multi-room audio lets HomePods synchronize music playback in different rooms, while the other feature allows users to pair two HomePods next to each other to create stereo sound.

Apple AirPlay 2 vs AirPlay: Which is better? Users will need WiFi on their iOS device in order to download the update. It's not just iPhone owners that benefit though, as AirPlay 2 also brings with it multi-room playback for the HomePod.

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