Last week, as expected, Apple announced that the second-generation AirPods Pro would come with a USB-C charging case instead of one using the company’s Lightning port. But surprisingly, this refresh isn’t strictly about the case: Apple has also added dust resistance (in addition to the existing water resistance) to the USB-C AirPods Pro. And the company announced that these AirPods Pro – and not last year’s model – will support lossless audio when paired with the upcoming Vision Pro headset next year.
I’ve been using the refreshed second-generation AirPods Pro for a few days now, and while the dust resistance does provide some added peace of mind, I can’t imagine anyone except USB loyalists -C the most fervent, will feel the temptation. upgrade. (It’s a shame Apple doesn’t sell the USB-C enclosure alone.) From a user perspective, everything else is the same as last year’s model.
Adaptive audio puts your music front and center while keeping you aware of the outside world
This is a good thing, because all Second-generation AirPods Pro owners can take advantage of new software features introduced with iOS 17: adaptive audio, custom volume, and conversation awareness. I’ve only just started testing and familiarizing myself with all three, and I plan to update our AirPods Pro review in the near future after spending more time with them. But I can already say that these are some of the biggest new tricks Apple has brought to AirPods in a while. These are not all original ideas; Sony and Samsung have been offering a “talk to chat” feature for several years. But as usual, Apple’s implementation is second to none.
Adaptive Audio is meant to be a set-it-and-forget-it mode that combines active noise cancellation and transparency, canceling out loud distractions when necessary while also helping you stay present in your surroundings. In my experience so far, this feature rarely cancels out my surroundings to the same degree as full noise cancellation mode (I wouldn’t use it on a plane), but it reduces outside noise enough to not be harmful. to my music, even at lower volumes. So far, to my ears, it’s basically an even smarter version of the Adaptive Transparency that Apple launched with last year’s AirPods Pro.
If you regularly wear your AirPods Pro on busy city streets, you should try Adaptive Audio. I think this is something Apple will continue to refine and adjust as it gathers customer feedback on the sounds they make and don’t want their headphones to miss out on.
Conversation Awareness is designed to make it easier to chat with people during brief interactions without having to remove your headphones. Start speaking and the volume of your music will instantly decrease while transparency mode activates to help you clearly hear everything that is said to you. Apple says this feature reduces overall background noise while improving the voice of anyone you’re speaking with. So far I have been very impressed with Conversation Awareness. It’s smart enough to avoid being triggered by coughing or other mute noises. But if you’re like me and have a habit of singing softly along with your music, this will quickly become a problem if you keep this setting on.
Conversation Awareness makes it easy to keep your headphones on when you order coffee in the morning.
Custom volume is the new trick I’ve experimented with the least so far; I’m someone who simply prefers manual control of the volume of my audio rather than letting the software make random adjustments based on my past preferences. I’ll try to give it one more chance over the next few weeks and see how well Apple knows what I want – or if I find myself reaching for volume for manual override.
Aside from these three major new features, Apple says the latest AirPods firmware also “adds convenience and control to calls by tapping to mute and unmute for AirPods (third generation), AirPods Pro (first and second generation) and AirPods Max, as well. as well as significant improvements to the auto-switching experience for all AirPods available on Apple devices with the latest software updates.
Auto-switching has behaved erratically and proved unpredictable for me in the past, so much so that I normally disable the feature completely on my devices. But some of my colleagues, including Associate Editor Dan Seifert, have noticed that this update really seems to improve things when moving from one Apple product to another. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to have iOS 17, iPadOS 17, and macOS Sonoma installed on their respective devices to experience more reliable automatic switching. The concept has always been great, but nothing is more frustrating than headphones that have a mind of their own and switch to the wrong device at the worst possible time.
Overall, the new AirPods Pro update is another example of how Apple is making the most of its ecosystem. I think we’ll see some of these features coming in the future version of the standard AirPods and the upcoming AirPods Max earbuds – probably whenever each of them makes the transition to USB-C.
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