Apple has rolled out the latest iOS 11.4 update with a new feature that makes the £319 HomePod do even more for the money, namely multi-room and stereo playback.
Apple will now compete more directly with the likes of Sonos which has offered wireless multi-room speakers for some time and more recently added Amazon Alexa voice controls to its Sonos One.
The HomePod speaker, which features Apple’s Siri smart assistant, can now be paired with another speaker to create a stereo pair. Or it can work with many speakers for multi-room support.
Multi-room playback means a person can move from room to room and have the music follow them, or play different music in different rooms, all controlled from one place.
Since the update works on iOS that means audio playback can be controlled from Apple’s iOS Control Centre but also via voice using Siri.
Siri can be asked to play music on one speaker in a certain room, across groups of rooms or for the entire house.
Another key feature of this update allows multi-room to work with any AirPlay 2 speakers. That means other, more affordable brands, can be paired to create a multi-room sound system for less.
Brands that currently support AirPlay 2 include: Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Definitive Technologies, Denon, Devialet, Dynaudio, Libratone, Marantz, McIntosh, Marshall, Naim, Pioneer, Polk, and Sonos.
When using Apple’s HomePod to create a stereo pair, the speaker uses a smart wireless peer-to-peer link which ensures that music playback, across both speakers, is in sync.
A stereo pair of HomePods will also intelligently turn off Siri on one so that you don’t get double the responses when speaking to the system.
Apple is set to hold its annual Worldwide Developer Conference, WWDC 2018, next month from June 4th, where lots more software and hardware announcements are expected.
Apple should show off its latest iOS 12, macOS, tvOS and watchOS to developers with plenty of exciting updates that users can expect to enjoy soon.
Rumours suggest that Apple may unveil a new MacBook with Retina Display and an entry level price which could see it replace the MacBook Air.
Last year saw the unveiling of Apple’s ARKit, for augmented reality, so expect to see lots more from that area this year as developers use that system for more real-world applications.
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