NEW UPDATE: iOS 11.4 beta 2 released a day earlier than expected, and has now gone live. The actual content of the update has yet to be discovered and will likely rely on beta testers to post information regarding the changes, but it’s safe to say that we should see further refinements of AirPlay 2 with tvOS, Messages in iCloud, and the return of HomePod Stereo support. Considering the update literally just released, it may be a little while before the full information comes out. All in all, you should expect further refinements and improvements rather than something new and revolutionary. It’s possible that Apple has a few tricks up their sleeves, but the major feature updates may be reserved for the upcoming launch of iOS 12.
Although we only just saw the full release of iOS 11.3, Apple is already hard at work on the next update: iOS 11.4. We already have received the release of the first beta, but here’s what we might be able to expect from iOS 11.4 beta 2.
With the release of iOS 11.4 beta 2, we expect further refinements of some features that were present in iOS 11.3, only be to be removed at the last minute before the full release: namely messages on iCloud and AirPlay 2.
With the last few updates, there have been a number of issues on Apple’s end. Ranging from security issues to features that don’t work as intended, the company has struggled to put out releases that are as stable as they were previously. These mistakes are often due to extreme time constraints put on developers – with an emphasis placed on quick releases rather than the actual stability and performance of the update. Apple appears to be taking a different approach with future development, however, swapping to a more relaxed release schedule and allowing engineers more time to make sure that the product sill run without a hitch. With so much riding on the successful release of iOS 11.3, we might start to see slower releases moving forward.
As mentioned above, one of the main features we should be able to expect from the iOS 11.4 beta 2 is the further testing of messages on iCloud. This feature was set to be included in iOS 11.3, but was cut at the last minute with little explanation as to why. One can only assume that there were issues with the utility that needed to be fixed before Apple could roll it out to the general public. Messages on iCloud continues Apple’s commitment to making their ecosystem even more connected – allowing people to receive and respond to texts no matter what Apple device they’re using. By adding increased convenience in iOS 11.4 beta 2, Apple may be setting themselves up to provide a more cohesive experience for all iOS users moving forward.
The other main feature that is presumably being tested further in iOS 11.4 beta 2 is AirPlay 2. The original AirPlay provided a great utility that allowed users to broadcast content from their phone to devices like an Apple TV. The main feature that AirPlay 2 will bring to the table is the ability to play audio through multiple speakers at the same time – a functionality notably absent from the original AirPlay. As with the messages on iCloud feature, it was set to be included with iOS 11.3 only to receive the chop near the end of the beta testing.
Both of these new technologies have been in development for quite some time and keep continually getting pushed back. It’s clear that there are some issues that are not yet resolved, and considering Apple’s renewed commitment to quality over quantity, there’s certainly a possibility that these features may be pulled yet again. We don’t have a lot of news on the specifics of iOS 11.4 beta 2, other than the two features mentioned above. Hopefully, with the launch of iOS 11.4 beta 2, we start to see more information come to light regarding the release of the full update and the sort of aspects that are being tested by developers lucky enough to be able to get their hands on this most recent build.
While it’s unlikely that we’ll see anything major introduced with this new beta that we haven’t already seen from beta 1, there’s still the possibility that we’ll see something brand new when it comes time to launch the update. Many speculate that we’ll see a further implementation or refinement of ClassKit APIs. At the recent education event that Apple held, a number of new features, products, and price reductions were announced that reaffirm Apple’s commitment to education. The ClassKit APIs should make it easier for developers to create applications that are optimized for a classroom environment, hopefully bringing Apple back into the running when it comes to integration within classrooms.
While Apple has a significant portion of the college market locked down with MacBooks and iPads prevalent across any sort of University campus, the fact remains that companies like Google are gaining ground quite quickly – recently seeming to surpass Apple due to their affordable devices that are optimized for productivity using the robust Google suite of products such as Google Docs and Sheets. By integrating their online ecosystem seamlessly with devices like the affordable Chromebook, Google has managed to solidify themselves as one of the go-to devices for education. By introducing more ClassKit API features with iOS 11.4 beta 2, we should see further development of applications that make devices like iPad once again a mainstay of the educational experience. These new functionalities combined with more affordable prices may make iPads a more common sight in private and public schools alike.
As far as the release date of iOS 11.4 beta 2, we should expect a new build around April 17th if past release schedules are any indication. After the release of the iOS 11.4 beta 2, we should start to see a more regular release schedule moving forward. As we continue to see releases moving up to the eventual full release, the updates should be tweaks more than they are full overhauls. let’s just hope that AirPlay 2 and Messages on iCloud make the cut this time. If we don’t see these features implemented, it’s likely that they’ll be reserved for the eventual launch of iOS 12, which should be announced at WWDC 2018 and be coming sooner rather than later – with iOS 11.4 the last (or one of the last) operating systems we see of iOS 11.x. The final release of iOS 11.4 should be within the next month or two, bringing the functionality we’re seeing with iOS 11.4 beta 2 and subsequent betas to the entirety of the iPhone and iPad userbase.