Apple’s AirPods Are Getting A Major Update

New features are coming to AirPods, and Apple told us all about them at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference. But what do we have in store for us, and when will we get it?

The update to iOS 15 also brings some new features to Apple’s AirPods Bluetooth earbuds. Conversation Boost is designed to help people with mild hearing difficulties. Computational audio and beam-forming microphones focus your AirPods Pro on the person who’s talking, making it easier to hear what they’re saying by cutting out background sounds. On your iPhone, sliders let you set the level of Ambient Noise Reduction, and turn the Conversation Boost feature on and off. 

A feature already present is Announce Messages with Siri, which reads incoming messages through your AirPods instead of making you reach for your phone. iOS 15 adds Announce Notifications, a similar service that

lets Siri read important, time-sensitive notifications in the same way. You can choose which apps to enable, so you won’t be constantly interrupted by notifications you’d rather deal with later. 

If you’re lucky enough to own AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, the way they work with the Find My app has also had a boost in iOS 15. Missing AirPods send out a secure Bluetooth beacon, and when another Apple device – owned by anybody – is nearby, their location is reported and delivered to your Find My app. Tap a button to get them to play a tone, whether they’re in their case or outside it. You can also get a separation alert if you leave them behind.

Last year’s Spacial Audio feature is now being extended to tvOS and M1-powered Macs, so if you’re watching Apple TV with your AirPods (Pro or Max), you get the full surround sound experience.

These great new features come to AirPods this autumn with the release of iOS 15.

Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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