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iOS 11.4 preview: which features are coming next?

Apple may have only just released iOS 11.3 to the public, complete with new battery tracking settings, four more Animoji characters, improvements to ARKit, a new health records feature, and more. But already it’s cracking on with beta testing for the upcoming iOS 11.4, which will likely be the last time Apple adds new features before iOS 12 launches in September.

We’d expect iOS 11.4 to release some time in the next two months, before Apple’s big WWDC event in June – but what features will the update add for users? Let’s take a look.

AirPlay 2

This has been in the works for a long time now, and keeps being delayed – but it looks as though iOS 11.4 will finally bring AirPlay 2 to the masses.

AirPlay is used to stream music and/or video from your Apple devices to compatible speakers and screens, and AirPlay 2 will make various improvements to the feature.

Most notably, multi-room playback. This means you can stream from a single device to multiple sources at once – so if you have speakers in multiple rooms, you can get full-house audio with everything playing the same music in sync.

AirPlay 2 will also enable HomePods to work in tandem as a stereo pair for even more impressive room-filling sound.

iCloud Messages

Like AirPlay 2, this is a somewhat delayed feature that users will be pleased to finally get their hands on. Despite appearing in the beta release of iOS 11.3, it was removed in the final version and looks set to arrive with iOS 11.4 instead.

This is a powerful feature that will allow iMessages to be stored in iCloud, potentially freeing up a decent chunk of storage space on your device. Recent messages will be saved locally, with the rest loaded from the internet as and when you need them.

It means that long message chains or large attachments such as video files can be “offloaded” to iCloud rather than consume space on your iPhone or iPad.

It also means that iMessages will stay perfectly in sync between all your devices, and all your chats will appear instantly on a new device too.

Anything else?

As usual, we’ll also see a number of bugs addressed with iOS 11.4, and various security and performance improvements. But the two features above seem to be the main points of interest, and both will be very welcome additions.

After that, we can start looking forward to iOS 12!