It’s here! The iOS update the world has been waiting for has finally been released. While it’s not a huge upgrade, iOS 11.4 is nonetheless significant as it brings AirPlay 2, the software which will allow HomePod users to create stereo pairs and build multi-room audio systems.
This is indeed good news for HomePod fans who have been patiently waiting for these features ever since Apple released its flagship smart speaker.
Simple Stereo Setup
Creating a stereo pair is really easy. Whenever a second HomePod is brought into the same room, the user will be asked if they would like to pair it up for stereo sound.
Once paired, the internal A8 chip inside the HomePod speakers automatically separates the left and right audio. With the use of ‘spatial awareness’, each HomePod finetunes its audio according to its surroundings. This way, a HomePod stereo set provides room-filling sound without causing any dissonance.
In true Internet of Things fashion, the two HomePod “communicate” with each other to understand which one is capable of responding to Siri requests.
Through AirPlay 2, users can now create a wireless multi-room audio system when they can play (or pause) their favorite audio streams anywhere on the devices of their choice.
Through Control Center or by asking Siri, users can play music on just one speaker or in a few rooms–or everywhere in the home.
If you are an Apple Music subscriber, all of this will be really easy. Just ask Siri to “play Live It Up by Nicky Jam in the office” and then say “also play this in the kitchen.”
In order to improve streaming consistency, Apple has now introduced a bigger buffer where the speakers download the audio before it gets played. This will prevent streaming hiccups caused by slow internet speeds or temporary disconnection.
Sadly, the new buffering system is not supported by most speakers available in the market. However, Sonos is expected to release new speakers with the support for AirPlay 2.
Industry giants — like Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, and Pioneer — are also preparing new supporting products.
According to the official press release for iOS 11.4, Apple will officially start selling HomePod in Canada, France, and Germany from Monday, June 18 through Apple Store, Apple Authorized Resellers, the Apple Store app, and the official website.
Support for Canadian French will be provided at a later date.
With the WWDC around the corner, it seems Apple is preparing the world for bigger, better things by completing the promised it made in the last year’s edition.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.