Apple simplifies switching and beefs up sound quality in upcoming AirPods update

Apple is bringing automatic switching between devices and spatial surround sound to AirPods and AirPods Pro..

Credit: Jason Cross/IDG

Among the flood of OS updates to the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, Apple used its WWDC keynote to announce two major features coming to AirPods and AirPods Pro.

Coming to all devices is a new feature that will automatically switch between devices. For example, if you’re listening to music on your iPhone and switch to a Zoom meeting on your Mac, your AirPods will be smart enough to switch its pairing so you don’t need to fiddle with Bluetooth settings. And if a call comes in on your phone, your AirPods will instantly switch back.

If you use your AirPods Pro to listen to movies, your experience is about to get a whole lot better thanks to support for spatial sound. Just like a high-end audio system, your AirPods Pro will soon be able to mimic a full-room array of speakers just like a 5.1, 7.1, or Dolby Atmos system.

Apple is using facial audio algorithms that mimic the movie theater experience by making it seem like the sound is literally surrounding you. To compensate for head and device movements, you AirPods Pro will constantly adjust the frequencies each ear receives so the sound field stays fixed, just as if you were sitting in a theater.

Apple is using the accelerometer and gyroscope in the AirPods Pro to dynamically remap the sound field as your head and device move, while comparing motion data to keep the sound centered.

The AirPods and AirPods Pro update will be available as a firmware update later this year.

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Michael Simon

Michael Simon
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