At WWDC 2023 today, Apple announced a surprising raft of new features coming to AirPods and AirPods Pro. These revolve around the ability to have your headphones adapt automatically to the sounds around you and adjust noise cancellation or transparency features to suit the situation.
The 2nd-gen AirPods Pro get the bulk of the upgrades with three new features: Adaptive Audio, Personalized Volume, and Conversation Awareness. Adaptive Audio is a new mode that sits midway between Transparency and noise cancellation. It reacts to different types of noise, knowing to mute some–such as leaf blowers and marching bands, based on the demo–and allow others through, such as the noise of incoming vehicles. In theory, at least this is a smart way to blend safety and convenience without requiring as much interaction with your headphones.
Conversation Awareness detects and recognizes the sounds of human speech, and knows to dial back noise cancellation so you can carry on a conversation. When the conversation ends, noise cancellation kicks back in. And Personalized Volume uses machine learning to understand environmental conditions and listening preferences over time to automatically fine-tune the media experience.
Additionally, Apple is making it easier with updates to Automatic Switching. Apple says the connection time between a user’s Apple devices is significantly faster and more reliable. Finally, AirPods Pro, AirPods (3rd gen), and AirPods Max will get enhanced with a new Mute or Unmute feature for calls. Users can press the stem or Digital Crown to quickly mute or unmute themselves.
The new AirPods update will be available this fall following a beta period beginning today for developers.