Published: Wed, May 30, 2018
Tech | By Amelia Peters

I tried out Apple’s new HomePod features. Here’s what I learned

I tried out Apple’s new HomePod features. Here’s what I learned

Apple iOS 11 also brings support for storing messages on iCloud along with bug fixes and improvements. Apple iPhone 5s and above, iPad Air and later, and the iPod touch 6th generation are eligible for the latest iOS 11 update. Apple has also rolled out watchOS 4.3.1 for all Apple Watch models. It also means that all of your iMessages will automatically show up on any new Apple device that supports the messaging service. Apple has said that the digital assistant functions aren't as important as the audio features because people mostly use smart speakers to play music. You can also control multiple AirPlay 2-powered audio devices directly from Control Centre of your iOS device even through the lock screen. So for example if you have two HomePod and one Airplay 2-enabled soundbar, you can beam your TV audio to all three in ideal synchronization. It does however come with a new user-facing alert created to inform users that specific apps will not be compatible with future versions of watchOS, suggesting that support for watchOS 1 is going to be removed in the near future. Nevertheless, the new change is likely to convince other multimedia device manufacturers to integrate the new protocol. The update gives you the ability to pair two HomePod units in the same room, allowing them to act as stereo speakers. This innovative stereo sound provides a wide, nearly three dimensional soundstage for an incredible listening experience anywhere in the room.

Of course, Airplay 2 still supports the ability to wirelessly push video from an iPhone, iPad or Mac onto Apple TV.

It is worth mentioning here that multi-room audio support and stereo pairing both are already available on Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers.

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We're about a week away from seeing what iOS 12 will be like, but in the meantime the latest version of iOS 11 is now available to download. iOS 11.4 is here, bringing two overdue features promised previous year: AirPlay 2 and iMessages in iCloud.

Extra iCloud storage space isn't all that expensive - plans start at $0.99 for 50 gigabytes - but if you don't want to have to start giving Apple more money on a regular basis, you should be mindful of the fact that Messages in iCloud could be what pushes your iCloud usage over the edge. If your device is going to be downloading a lot of new messages, you'll need to plug it in so that the process can take place. It also supports Messages in iCloud.

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