Big features make a comeback in iOS 11.4 beta 1

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iOS 11.4 beta 1 brings back big features we saw in previous betas, including AirPlay 2, multiroom support in Home app, and Messages on iCloud.
iOS 11.4 brings back some cool new features Apple teased us with before.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The first beta of iOS 11.4 brings back some big features Apple tested in previous betas, but then subsequently removed.

Check out our video below to see iOS 11.4 in action. We run through what’s new and what you can expect if you give the beta a whirl.

Don’t call it a comeback! iOS 11.4 beta 1 new features

iOS 11.4 beta 1, which Apple released this week, brings back a slew of features we saw in previous betas. Apple’s engineers apparently did not deem them ready for prime time, because they removed them before shipping the finished version of iOS 11.3.

Changes we found in the new iOS 11.4 beta:

  • AirPlay 2 added with limited functionality with tvOS
  • Stereo pairing option returns within the Home app
  • Messages on iCloud returns

AirPlay 2

The biggest feature addition is AirPlay 2 support. It allows for multiroom playback and eventually pairing up two HomePods for stereo audio. Currently, the only devices that fully support AirPlay 2 are the Apple TV 4K and standard Apple TV 4 when running the latest tvOS beta.

Once set up, you can pair multiple AirPlay 2-enabled devices for multiroom playback and control them through Control Center.

I’ve only got two Apple TVs that support AirPlay 2, so I’ve only been able to test this feature on those devices. But so far, it works great. You can see which devices are supported in Control Center by tapping on the AirPlay icon. Those with a circle next to them are available. Tap on the circle, and your music will play in sync throughout your home. You can also independently control the volume levels for each device, or turn them up all together with the slider beneath.

Stereo pairing in Home app

The return of a stereo pairing option within the Home app is a solid clue that AirPlay 2 make its way to HomePod in a beta in the near future. Apple is teasing us by showing us the option, but it won’t work until the iOS 11.4 beta is available for the HomePod. Speaking of the Home app, any Apple TVs on the same network will also show up there.

Messages on iCloud

Messages on iCloud is also back. It allows you to sync message app data through iCloud, so deleting messages on one device will delete them on other iOS devices and Macs.

A public beta version of this iOS update is already available, so anybody who wants to can try it out. Just be aware that running betas can leave you open to bugs and other annoyances. It’s not really recommended that you run beta software on your main device.

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