Apple has introduced a software update for HomePod just ahead of next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2018 that will bring features such as AirPlay 2 or multi-room audio and iMessages in iCloud.
“HomePod, the wireless speaker from Apple, now delivers an even more immersive listening experience throughout the home with support for HomePod stereo pairs and a new multi-room audio system in iOS 11.4,” the iPhone maker said in a statement late on Tuesday.
AirPlay 2 also brings stereo dual-HomePod music playback to HomePods.
“This software update introduces the most advanced, wireless multi-room audio system using AirPlay 2 to play music in any room from any room, move music from one room to another or play the same song everywhere using an iOS device, HomePod, Apple TV or by asking Siri,” the company added.
Another overdue and key feature in iOS 11.4 is the addition of Messages in iCloud which syncs across all devices and deletes iMessages across everything.
It also backs up iMessages so that any new device in the account can get old iMessages without restoring a backup.
Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, break ground on smaller locations in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, and over the next three years expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Colorado.
The tech giant said Thursday that the new campus in Austin, less than a mile from existing Apple facilities, will open with 5,000 positions in engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales, and customer support. The site, according to Apple, will have the capacity to eventually accommodate 15,000 employees.
The three other new locations will have more than 1,000 employees each.
Early this year, Apple said that it would make more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. over the next five years. That, the company said in January, would create more than 20,000 new jobs at existing and new campuses that Apple planned to build.
Where U.S. companies open new facilities or plants has always had the potential for public and political backlash.
That potential has intensified under the Trump administration, which has pushed companies to keep more of their operations inside the country’s borders.
While CEO Tim Cook has steered mostly clear President Donald Trump’s ire, Apple did receive some push back three months ago from the White House.
Apple sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative warning that the burgeoning trade war with China and rising tariffs could force higher prices for U.S. consumers.
Trump in a tweet told Apple to start making its products in the U.S., and not China.
Apple uses a lot of facilities overseas to produce components and its products, including China.
Top tech executives from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Qualcomm gathered at the White House earlier this month to discuss strained ties between the administration and the industry, and trade tensions with China. Cook was not among them, nor was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
There are already 6,000 Apple employees in Austin, its largest operation outside of company headquarters in Cupertino, California, where 37,000 people are employed.
“Apple has been a vital part of the Austin community for a quarter century, and we are thrilled that they are deepening their investment in our people and the city we love,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a prepared statement Thursday.
Apple said nearly a year ago that it would begin canvassing the U.S. for another campus.
Cities offered incentives to lure the company, but Cook avoided a high-profile competition that pitted them against one another as Amazon did over the last year and a half.
Amazon, too, expands
Amazon announced in November after a 14-month search it had selected Long Island City, Queens, and Arlington, Virginia, as the joint winners. Each site will employ around 25,000 people.
Cities are eager to bring in more tech employers because companies like Apple and Amazon ladle out six-figure salaries to engineers and other skilled workers.