Apple Executives Detail New AirPods Pro 2 Software Features
While the iPhone 15 lineup and Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 took centre stage at Apple’s recent event, AirPods Pro 2 also received some updates, including a USB-C charging case. Also new were significant software enhancements, including new listening modes accessible via iOS 17.
“Adaptive Audio is a little bit slower over the course of a few seconds, because it’s meant to be a much more methodical process to know what you’re listening to,” said Eric Treski, Product Marketing Director at Apple, in a conversation with TechCrunch.
The software update introduces Adaptive Audio, which seamlessly switches between different settings in real-time. The feature aims to balance situational awareness with noise impact, allowing users to walk down a crowded street without being disturbed by loud noises.
“Instead of relying on a location hint from the phone, the AirPods monitor your environment in real time and make those decisions intelligently on their own,” explained Ron Huang, VP of Sensing and Connectivity at Apple.
The system also considers the type of content being listened to, whether it’s music or a podcast, and adjusts the volume accordingly. Personalized Volume, another feature, uses machine learning to fine-tune the media experience based on user data and environmental conditions.
“We took tens of thousands of hours of different data to really understand different listening preferences,” added Huang.
Another significant update is Conversational Awareness, which lowers the volume when the wearer begins speaking. The feature utilizes on-board sensors to detect jaw movement and voice, avoiding accidental triggers.
“Connection times for our AirPods to our devices are way faster with this new software update,” Huang stated, emphasizing the improved switching speed between devices within the Apple ecosystem.
The AirPods Pro 2 are also compatible with Apple’s upcoming spatial computing headset, Vision Pro, offering ultra-low latency lossless audio.
“To get to really, really low latency audio, and to get to really high fidelity, lossless audio — it’s all about a very, very clean and real-time channel between two,” Huang elaborated.
In the development phase of the Adaptive Audio feature for the AirPods Pro 2, Apple considered using the device’s GPS to determine sound levels based on the user’s location. However, this method was ultimately deemed inefficient in real-world testing.
“During early exploration for Adaptive Audio, we basically put you in ANC versus transparency, based on where you are,” said Ron Huang, VP of Sensing and Connectivity at Apple. “After all our learnings, we don’t think that is the right way to do it.”
Instead of relying on GPS-based location hints, Apple decided that the AirPods would monitor the user’s environment in real time to make intelligent decisions on their own. “Your house is not always quiet and the streets are not always loud,” Huang added.
While the hardware changes to the AirPods Pro 2 may be minimal, the software updates indicate Apple’s commitment to enhancing user experience through intelligent design and technological innovation.