AirPods are an outrageously successful product line for Apple. Users love the extremely easy connectivity and overall quality, but just as important is the way they keep adding features to the Apple ecosystem over time. With the release of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey this fall, your AirPods are going to become even more useful and enjoyable. Here’s a list of the changes you can look forward to.
AirPods iOS 15 firmware: Expanded Find My support
Just search social media for “Lost AirPod” and you’ll see a cavalcade of misery. AirPods are so small that it’s way too easy to lose one, or even your whole pair in its case. This fall, Apple is adding Find My support to AirPods Pro and AirPods Max (sorry, regular AirPods users). AirPods Pro or Max will be able to be located just like any other Find My compatible device, so other Apple devices can help locate your lost earbuds.
And you can even set Separation Alerts to get a notification when you leave your AirPods behind. (Separation Alerts is a new feature coming to all your devices and items in Find My.)
AirPods iOS 15 firmware: Conversation Boost
Uses your AirPods Pro microphones and computational audio to focus on the sounds of the person talking in front of you. You’ll be able to adjust the level of ambient sound to help you focus, too. This feature’s only for AirPods Pro, not regular AirPods or AirPods Max.
AirPods iOS 15 firmware: Spatial audio on Apple TV and M1 Macs
Spatial Audio is permeating Apple’s whole ecosystem. It’s already available for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max users on iPhone or iPad when watching in the TV app, and just launched for Music, too. Apple’s bringing Spatial Audio to group FaceTime calls to make it easier to distinguish voices.
When Apple launched Spatial Audio for TV viewing, we wondered why Apple TV—the best place to watch such content—was left out. This fall, Apple’s rectifying that by bringing Spatial Audio to AirPods Pro and Max when watching Apple TV, and even M1 Macs.
AirPods iOS 15 firmware: Announce Notifications
Your AirPods can already announce messages, reading incoming texts and allowing you to quickly reply by voice. Announce Notifications is the next step—Siri will read important or time-sensitive notifications. Reminders that have locations attached will see Siri read it out to you when you arrive there. Apple’s example was having your shopping list read out to you when you arrive at the grocery store.
AirPods iOS 15 firmware: Compatibility and release date
While all of the current models of AirPods—AirPods (second generation), AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max—will get all of the new features, owners of the original AirPods will miss out on one of them: Announce Notifications. The new AirPods firmware will release alongside iOS 15 in the fall.
AirPods iOS 15 firmware: How to get the beta
Apple hasn’t previously released betas for AirPods firmware updates, but that will change this summer. Apple has announced that “Pre-release AirPods Pro firmware for Apple Developer Program members will be available at a future date.” As of now, Apple has no plans to release AirPods firmware for other models or for public testers. Developers who wish to test the software will presumably need iOS 15 on their device.
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I have written professionally about technology for my entire adult professional life - over 20 years. I like to figure out how complicated technology works and explain it in a way anyone can understand.