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During the WWDC 2023 keynote address on Monday, Apple previewed new features for its AirPods Pro wireless earbuds. The company showed off its new Adaptive Audio, Automatic Switching, and Conversation Awareness features, which will come to the AirPods Pro this fall via a firmware update.
Adaptive Audio for AirPods Pro 2 dynamically provides a mix of Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes. The feature uses external noise to determine the audio mix required at that moment by either canceling loud noises like engines or improving voice capture for conversations.
The new listening mode will tailor the user’s noise control experience while the user moves between various environments and interactions that constantly change throughout the day.
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Personalized Volume is also intended to improve a user’s personal audio experience by using machine learning to interpret environmental conditions and listening preferences over time, conditioning itself to a user’s daily environment, and allowing it to automatically fine-tune a user’s media experience.
Last but not least, users with AirPods Pro 2 earbuds can begin speaking and the Conversation Awareness will automatically lower the audio volume, enhancing voices in front of the user while also reducing background noise.
The new firmware also brings an update to the earbuds’ Automatic Switching feature. The connection time when switching a pair of AirPods Pro between a user’s various Apple devices will be significantly quicker and more reliable. Apple says the update will make it more seamless to move from your iPhone to your Mac and vice versa.
Also, using your AirPods on a call will be enhanced, thanks to a new Mute or Unmute feature when using AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generations), AirPods (3rd generation), and AirPods Max. Users will be able to simply press the stem (or the Digital Crown on AirPods Max) to quickly mute or unmute the earbuds.
Developers will be able to access an early AirPods developer beta later this summer via the Apple Developer Program website. It’s not yet clear whether Apple’s new policy of making developer betas free to everyone will apply to the AirPods firmware or if it will remain limited to paid developers. Either way, the new AirPods features will be available to the public this fall as a free firmware update.
In related news, AirPods Pro 2 owners will be able to use a single word to summon Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, which is available on Apple’s iPhones, iPads, Macs, and other devices. Apple announced on Monday that it will shorten the phrase to summon Siri from “Hey Siri” to simply “Siri.”
After summoning Siri, users will also be able to issue multiple commands in a row without needing to reactivate the assistant. Apple says the shorter “Siri” command will be compatible with any iPhone or iPad capable of running iOS 17 or iPadOS 17. However, the feature will only be available on Macs with Apple silicon and the second-generation AirPods Pro.