The features come as part of an update in the form of iOS 11.4, which is out today. It's something that Apple's been promising since the early days of the smart speaker, and now it's finally available as a free software update - for those who can afford to shell out for two $349 speakers, that is. This includes AirPlay 2, which improves Apple's wireless audio tech with a bigger buffer so that small network issues don't interrupt your playback and a tighter clock sync between devices to enable multi-room audio on the HomePod and AirPlay 2-enabled speakers.
But when we reviewed the £319 HomePod, we stated that most of its teething problems could be fixed, in particular the lack of stereo pairing and potential benefits of AirPlay 2. AirPlay 2 support was originally expected to launch alongside the HomePod in February, but apparently wasn't ready for prime time, so the speaker had been restricted to single-unit performance until today. Additional AirPlay 2 speakers are apparently coming from Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Denon, Libratone, Marantz, Marshall, Naim, Pioneer and Sonos, as well.
IOS 11.4 is now available to download. The speakers will recognize one another during setup and ask the user whether they want to form a stereo pair.
While those may be the headline features for AirPlay 2, there are some other welcome improvements too.
Stereo pairing allows you to play through HomePods simultaneously.
HomePod pair automatically senses its location in the room and balances the sound based on the speakers' locations. Messages in iCloud also makes it easier to delete message information-delete a message, photo, or other attachment from one device and it automatically disappears from all of your other iCloud-connected devices.
Messages in iCloud is the big one for iOS users.
The update to iOS 11.4 brings with it a few notable new features. Now these issue have been addressed it makes the speaker a much more compelling purchase, despite the price.