iOS 11.4 First beta available for developers
Apple has to release AirPlay 2 and Messages in iCloud eventually, argues Jason Cross
As we’ve seen iOS 11.3 is finally here after more than two months of beta testing. It added several new features, including battery health and performance settings, four new Animoji, Business Chat and Health Records betas, and a bit upgrade to ARKit.
Two big features we’ve been waiting on since the release of iOS 11 last year were notably absent: AirPlay 2 and Messages in iCloud. Both features were
included in beta, but were cut from the final release. Those features are unlikely to get pushed back to iOS 12 (due for release this autumn), which means iOS 11 will have yet another point release.
Here’s what we know so far about iOS 11.4: what’s in it, how the betas are progressing, when it will be released, and how to join the beta program and install the beta.
What’s in iOS 11.4? Schoolwork and ClassKit
At Apple’s education event on 27 March, the company previewed two new software initiatives: the Schoolwork app and ClassKit API. Schoolwork is made for teachers to hand out information, make assignments, and
keep track of their students’ progress. ClassKit is for developers of educational apps. It allows them to designate different activities and information in their apps so that teachers can use them with Schoolwork.
Given Apple’s latest education initiatives, we expect these to be a part of iOS 11.4, and to show up sooner rather than later. If Apple knows anything about schools, it knows that major structural changes to how classes are organized and administered need to be planned out long before the school year starts in the autumn.
AirPlay 2 and HomePod stereo
After a brief appearance in iOS 11.3, AirPlay 2 was removed prior to the final release. We’ll be looking for that to return in iOS 11.4, along with the ability to use two HomePod speakers in a stereo configuration.
At least some AirPlay 2 features appear to be back in testing in iOS 11.4 beta 1. Apple TV devices are listed in the Home app, for example. Early testers also report that stereo support for two HomePods is included on the iPhone/iPad side, but it won’t actually work yet until HomePod gets new beta software.
Messages in iCloud
We’ve been waiting for this forever, it seems, so forgive us for being annoyed that it was removed from the final iOS 11.3 release after working all the way up through the final beta release.
Early reports indicate that Messages in iCloud are back in Developer Beta 1. Hopefully, it sticks around through final release this time.
The first iOS 11.4 beta was released on 2 April. Most iOS point releases are in beta between 30 and 60 days. (Will Hains has been tracking iOS release betas here.) We suspect iOS 11.4 will generally follow suit, which means a release in May or June.
How to get it
If you’re a developer, you can get the developer releases from the Apple Developer site at fave. co/2t1JI1d.
If you’re a regular user and want to join the beta test, you’ll need to head to beta.apple.com on the iPhone or iPad on which you want to run the beta. You can enrol there and download a special profile that will allow your device to download the beta releases. After that, new beta releases will be delivered just as regular iOS updates are: You’ll get a notification when one is ready, or you can check manually by going to Settings > General > Software Update.