While everyone gets excited over the release of new iPhones, those don't come around nearly as often as iOS updates. And when you think about it, the software update is sometimes even better.
Sure every now and then the phone comes packed with a larger screen, slightly better camera or some other nifty upgrade, but when the iOS gets improved, we get features without having to buy a new phone.
With that in mind, those of us who were anxiously waiting for Apple's newest iOS update, 11.4, are in luck. It has finally been released, and it comes with some good stuff.
What you get when you update
Not all iOS updates are created equal, and much of the time they end up doing more to fix bugs than significantly upgrade our features. When it comes to iOS 11.4, we get a little of both.
Among its fixes, it resolves an issue that caused some messages to appear out of order, as well as one that at times prevented people from logging in or accessing files on Google Drive, Docs and Gmail in Safari. It also corrected a bug that could prevent data syncing in Health, and fixed a problem that caused CarPlay audio to become distorted.
It also fixes an issue where certain characters caused Messages to crash, and resolved a problem that could cause an app to appear in the wrong spot on the Home screen.
But that's all about the stuff that is supposed to work and didn't. While we appreciate it, what's fun is the new features. There are three main ones in this update.
Welcome messages to iCloud
With this update, you can now store your messages, photos and other attachments in iCloud. Not only will this free up space on your phone, but all of it -- including messages -- will appear when you sign into a new device under the same iMessage account.
Along with that, when you delete messages and conversations from one device they will be removed from all others.
AirPlay 2 gets greater support
With iOS 11.4, you will be able to control your home audio system and AirPlay 2-enabled speakers throughout the house, play music at the same time on multiple AirPlay 2-enabled speakers in the house and control the speakers from the iOS Control Center.
You will also be able to control your AirPlay 2-enabled speakers through Siri and be able to take a call or play a game on your iPhone or iPad without interrupting what is being played back on the speakers.
And some new tricks for the HomePod
If you jumped on the opportunity to grab Apple's entry into the home assistant/speaker market, iOS 11.4 is an even better update for you. It supports setting up your HomePod stereo pair using your iPad or iPhone, while the HomePod pair will automatically sense its location in the room. It will balance the sound based on where the speakers are located.
The update also provides advanced beamforming, which will provide a wider soundstage than a traditional stereo pair, as well as an ability to automatically update in order to support stereo pairs. That is, unless audio updates are disabled in the Home app.
Ready to download the update?
If all that sounds good to you, or if you are the kind of person who updates whenever the opportunity arises, then you're ready to start your download.
In order to do so, take your iOS device and go to Settings >> General >> Software Update before tapping on the box to start the download. You will want to make sure your phone is connected to a Wi-Fi network at the time and also has a good amount of battery left.
You can also connect your iPhone to a computer that has iTunes, though that method is slower and more clunky.
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