Apple today officially released iOS 11.4, the fourteenth update to the iOS 11 operating system that was first introduced last September. iOS 11.4 comes a month after the release of iOS 11.3.1, an update that introduced a bug fix for a display repair issue.
Apple generally shows hesitation when it comes to dishing the dirt on what’s in various iOS releases, but where iOS 11.4 is concerned, Tim Cook’s men and women appear to be in a more verbose mood, which is likely down to some of the wonderful and impressive inclusions in iOS 11.4, such as Messages on iCloud, the ClassKit framework. There is also a new security feature being added to iOS 11.4 where the iOS device will refuse access via the Lightning port if the device hasn’t been unlocked for seven days; thereby making it difficult for USB hacks to be applied to the said device.
There is also a security element to take into consideration here, and, as always, Apple has made sure that device owners are aware of the security content pumped out in each release, as highlighted below.
AirPlay 2 had made numerous appearances in beta versions of iOS 11.3 but didn’t make the cut. It’s finally here in iOS 11.4.
With AirPlay 2, you can use “multi-room audio” from iOS devices, making it easier to control speakers using Control Center, the Home app, or with Siri. Previously, this was only available through iTunes under macOS or Windows.
Thanks to AirPlay 2 and a companion firmware update, users with more than one HomePod can finally listen in stereo. This will bring multi-room and stereo pairing to the HomePod and Apple TV.
Messages in iCloud
Best called the big tease, Messages in iCloud has been added and removed from iOS 11 beta versions for what seems like forever. The feature moves Messages to iCloud and in doing so, allows you to sync conversations across all of your devices, including iOS, macOS, and watchOS.
In other words, when you delete a message on one device, it’s gone on the others too.
Schoolwork and ClassKit
For educational users on iOS 11.4 devices, Apple has introduced Schoolwork and ClassKit. Both features were first announced at Apple’s Chicago-based educational event on March 27.
ClassKit allows app developers to add features that can be used by educational institutions with Apple School Manager and Managed Apple IDs. Teachers assign activities in Schoolwork with students’ progress recorded in ClassKit-enabled apps.
For the full list of fixes and new features in iOS 11.4, check out the official release notes.
Release Notes for iOS 11.4
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.
- 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
- Use your voice to control AirPlay 2-enabled speakers with Siri from your iPhone or iPad, HomePod, or Apple TV
- Take a call or play a game on your iPhone or iPad without interrupting playback on your AirPlay 2-enabled speakers
HomePod stereo pair
- This update supports setting up your HomePod stereo pair using your iPhone or iPad
- HomePod pair automatically senses its location in the room and balances the sound based on the speakers’ locations
- Advanced beamforming provides wider soundstage than traditional stereo pair
- HomePod will automatically update to support stereo pairs, unless auto updates are disabled in the Home app
Messages in iCloud
- Store your messages, photos, and other attachments in iCloud and free up space on your devices
- All your messages appear when you sign into a new device with the same iMessage account
- When you delete messages and conversations they are instantly removed from all your devices
- To turn on Messages in iCloud, enable Messages in iCloud settings (Settings > [your name] > iCloud)
- Your conversations continue to be end-to-end encrypted
Other improvements and fixes
- Enables teachers to assign their students reading activities in iBooks using the Schoolwork app
- Fixes an issue where certain character sequences could cause Messages to crash
- Addresses a Messages issue that could cause some messages to appear out of order
- Addresses an issue that could prevent logging in or accessing files on Google Drive, Google Docs and Gmail in Safari
- Fixes an issue that could prevent data syncing in Health
- Fixes an issue that could prevent users from changing what apps can access Health data
- Resolves an issue that could cause an app to appear in an incorrect location on the Home screen
- Fixes an issue where CarPlay audio could become distorted
- Fixes an issue where selecting music from your iPhone could fail when playing music over Bluetooth or when connected to USB on some vehicles
For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website: https://support.apple.com/kb/HT201222
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.