Alongside iOS 11.4, watchOS 4.3.1, and tvOS 11.4, Apple officially released the iOS 11.4 update for the HomePod as well, which introduces major new features for Apple’s smart speaker. This is the second update that’s been released for the HomePod since it became available for purchase back in February.
As Apple announced this morning, the new HomePod software, paired with iOS 11.4, introduces support for AirPlay 2 and HomePod stereo pairing.
AirPlay 2 is an updated AirPlay protocol that’s simpler, more advanced, and more robust, enabling multi-room audio capabilities. With AirPlay 2, you can play music in any room to any room, move music from one room to another room, or play the same song in multiple rooms using an iOS device through an app or Control Center, the Apple TV, the HomePod, or Siri voice commands on any of the aforementioned devices.
The HomePod is the first AirPlay 2 device and one of the only AirPlay 2 devices on the market right now, but Apple plans to allow third-party speakers from companies like Sonos, Bose, Libratone, and more to add support for AirPlay 2.
Today’s update also allows two HomePod speakers to be set up as a stereo pair, which is ideal for larger rooms as the arrangement offers up more room-filling sound. When paired, each HomePod is able to automatically adjust audio to take into account the other HomePod, for excellent sound from each device.
Stereo pairing uses an Apple-designed wireless peer-to-peer direct link to allow the HomePods to communicate with one another and play music in sync. The two speakers will act as one when paired, and just one will respond to incoming Siri requests.
The new HomePod software also introduces one other small but important change — it will allow users to check calendar appointments on the HomePod using Siri voice commands.
The new software should automatically be installed after you update your iOS devices to iOS 11.4. However, the new software can also be manually updated by going into the Home iOS app, selecting your HomePod, and then selecting the Software Update option. This will check to see if you’re running the newest available software, and, if not, update the smart speaker.