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Apple releases iOS 11.4 for iPhone and iPad with AirPlay 2, Messages in iCloud support

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Ahead of the unveiling of Apple's future plans for iOS at WWDC, the company has released iOS 11.4 to the public, including support for its ClassKit framework for educational apps, support for AirPlay 2, and the long-overdue addition of Messages in iCloud.

Following after six beta builds issued to developers and public testers, including four builds released in May alone, iOS 11.4 is now available to download to iPhones, iPads, and the iPod Touch as an over-the-air software update.

The final release is largely unchanged from the sixth beta, with the key inclusion being support for ClassKit, Apple's framework for helping developers make their educational apps work with Apple's school-based software, including the Schoolwork app. Apple intends for teachers to request assignments from students, including links that can open up specific parts of another app that needs to be used to complete the task, with ClassKit enabling these links to function.

This is also the release that includes Messages in iCloud, a feature that synchronizes conversations between multiple Apple devices logged into the same Apple ID. Deleting messages from one logged-in device removes it from all connected to the iCloud account. Also, only the newest messages will be stored on-device, with the rest held in iCloud and loaded only when required.

Originally announced for inclusion in iOS 11 during WWDC 2017, Messages in iCloud has been made available for use in betas, but has previously been pulled before Apple publishes the main public release.

AirPlay 2 has also endured an extended period of time in betas without being made available to the general public, previously tested in betas for iOS 11.3 before being removed then reinstated for the iOS 11.4 betas. AirPlay 2 is an update to Apple's wireless streaming protocol AirPlay, adding extra features like multi-room audio support.

Also included is a fix to remove some of the lag in using 3D Touch on supported iPhones, the ability to use Siri to control Apple Music playback on the Apple TV, and other performance improvements.

Users can download the update by opening the Settings app on their device, navigating to General, then Software Update.