AirPods get new features with iOS 15
One wouldn't expect new features for existing headphones that have been on store shelves for a year and more to take the limelight at a developer conference. But here we are — while talking about iOS 15 at WWDC 2021, Apple also announced a bunch of updates for AirPods, mostly improving on already existing features. Here's what's new for AirPods come iOS 15:
Apple has been fiddling with different ways to turn AirPods into hearing aids for a while. We have this Live Listen mode, which lets your iPhone capture sound through its mic, amplify it, and send it to your AirPods. But that's not really what hearing aids do.
Now, the newly announced Conversation Boost will take another stab at the concept. It uses the AirPods' built-in mics and tries to boost voice frequencies while drowning out ambient sound. Presumably, this will be a better function than Live Listen. But we will have to test it.
We've had Siri read out iMessages for us directly into our AirPods for a while now. iOS 15 will take this concept further with "Announce Notifications". It does pretty much what it says on the tin — your hands are busy, but your AirPods are in your ears. You receive any type of notification (not just an iMessage) — email, reminder, 3rd party chat apps — and Siri reads it out loud for you.
The feature will work in tandem with the new Focus modes so unwanted notifications don't disturb you in a particular moment.
Precise Find My location
AirPods Pro and AirPods Max have an U1 chip inside them. Sound familiar? That's the ultra-wideband chip that lets the new AirTags work their magic in letting you find the precise location of your items.
Thus far, you couldn't get the precise location of your AirPods Pro and Max through the Find My app. But with iOS 15 — you will be able to track them just like they were an AirTag.
Also, there's a new "Separation alert" notification — if you have it on, your phone will alert you every time you are leaving an area without your AirPods.
Spatial Audio coming to tvOS and Mac
Spatial Audio is a fairly new feature, first introduced on the AirPods Pro. On one hand, it enhances the virtual soundstage when listening to music or Apple TV shows that have been mastered to support it. On the other, it tracks the movement of your head, so the sounds stay in place on that virtual soundstage, creating a more immersive experience.
Up until now, Spatial Audio was only available on iOS and iPadOS devices. But now, it's coming to MacOS (for Macs with the M1 chip) and tvOS.
Oh, speaking of Spetial Audio
Apple Music with Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos launches today!
Apple recently announced that Apple Music is getting a major bump in sound quality, with tracks mastered to sound fuller and more immersive through your AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. The new Dolby Atmos tracks are available today.
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