Wednesday Morning News

Apple has released the final version of iOS 11.4 to the general public. Multi-room audio with AirPlay 2 is the headlining feature, with Apple’s press release extolling the virtues of being able to request songs to be played on your HomePod in different rooms in your house, as well as the ability to setup two HomePods as a stereo pair. There’s a bunch of new music playback controls in the iOS Control Center to support multi-room audio, but that’s not all iOS 11.4 has up its sleeve…

We’ll get back to multi-room audio with multiple HomePods in a second, but iOS 11.4 also brings Messages in iCloud along for the ride. It’s a feature that was originally revealed at last year’s WWDC, so it’s nice that we’re finally getting it just a week before this year’s WWDC. The other minor improvements and fixes in iOS 11.4 are listed on MacRumors, but I for one look forward to an end of character sequences crashing Messages, or messages appearing out-of-order.

For everyone who purchased two HomePods to start off with, Apple has delivered on their multi-room audio promise with iOS 11.4. Setting up two HomePods as a stereo pair is simple enough, although you’ll need to choose which HomePod gets to output left and right for the proper perspective. Two HomePods means roughly double the sound, but you’d have to really like HomePods to buy two when there are cheaper multi-room audio solutions that sound just as good, for most people. While Apple’s US site lists a number of HomeKit-compatible speakers that aren’t the HomePod, Australia’s list only has the HomePod.

A rumour from the Apple supply chain claims that all three iPhones to be released next year will have OLED displays. That’s in contrast to previous rumours which have claimed that we’ll still see LCD iPhones in this year’s lineup, with the decision to switch based on the improved tech of OLED displays compared to LCDs, particularly for smaller devices like iPhones.

Digitimes are claiming Apple manufacturing partner Pegatron will be manufacturing Apple’s ARM MacBook. 9to5Mac says the likely candidate to start an ARM transition away from Intel would be something like the 12-inch MacBook, which could keep the fanless design and day-long battery life that it currently has, coupled with the improved performance that an ARM chip would bring.

Russia doesn’t want Telegram in its App Store, and has asked for Apple’s help in blocking the secure messaging app. Russia previously ordered mobile telcos and internet providers to block Telegram, but that reportedly only disrupted Telegram use by 15 to 30%. Russia has previously asked Apple to remove Telegram from the App Store, but this time it’s asking a little more forcefully.

Apple also released watchOS 4.3.1 and tvOS 11.4. While the watchOS release appears to simply fix an issue where the Apple logo would display on startup for an extended period of time, tvOS 11.4 brings the AirPlay 2 goods by allowing you to turn any connected speaker into an AirPlay 2 target, kind of like how the AirPort Express did, back in the day.

With your stereo HomePods you’ll still need some way to play music from your Mac. While you can already, kind-of, play to multiple speakers at once with iTunes, today’s iTunes 12.7.5 release is more of a maintenance fix than anything else. Note that this isn’t the version that still has access to the App Store, which remains at 12.6.4.

Elago’s latest Apple Watch accessory is a little clip that you attach to your Apple Watch band that lets you carry around your AirPods. The Wrist Fit looks a little weird, but there’s probably worse ways to carry around your AirPods outside of their charging case when you’re out and about and don’t have pockets.

Beem It is a new app from three of the big four Aussie banks (CommBank, NAB, and Westpac) that haven’t yet adopted Apple Pay. It’s a peer-to-peer cash payment system that’s linked to your debit Visa or MasterCard, which makes it more of a competitor to traditional bank transfers and PayID than anything else. I expect that it will fall into obscurity once every bank has adopted the New Payments Platform for instant bank transfers, but we’ll see. In the meantime, it’s a nicely put-together app, and you can get $5 for handing over some of your personal details. If you’re lucky, you might also get a good username.

Notable Replies

  1. So what does Messages in iCloud actually do for me?

    I get that it syncs messages across devices so if you delete in one place it should update everywhere, I appreciate that it backs up messages too, another nice to have. But if this doesn’t give me the ability to access those messages via the web interface, what does it actually bring for your average Windows user? (what proportion of iOS users have Macs vs Windows or even no PC at all?)

    Another interesting thing is going to be storage for everyone rocking the stock 5GB. When I got my new iPhone in September last year I kept my old 6 in the drawer for a couple of months waiting for iCloud messages so I could sync them across to the new phone without having to do a full restore. Eventually I got bored of waiting and my Sons iPhone 5S died so he got my old handset and I lost all that history, not that it was a real concern for me. Fast forward 8 months and I already have almost 2GB of messages on the new phone… and I’m barely a user of messages. If my previous history was there it would go back many years and blast through that 5GB. Is this another step towards pushing people into paid storage?

    I’ll update the iPhone and the Mac and have a play and see how it goes, but it will be interesting to see how others go.

  2. I was hoping Messages in iCloud would let me access/send/receive messages from the browser iCloud portal. Sigh, maybe in a couple years.

  3. Seems Messages in iCloud is also only working for iOS devices right now, not Messages on MacOS. Far out, they’re really making a dogs breakfast of this rollout.

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