It's like getting a new pair of Pods
Fact checked by Jerri Ledford
iOS 17 includes a massive feature update for the AirPods Pro 2.
Adaptive Audio is like magic—mostly.
The AirPods' existing feature lineup is already pretty impressive.
Of all the product and software updates out of Cupertino this fall, perhaps the best is the handful of additions to the AirPods Pro 2, turning them from essential into unmissable.
AirPods software updates tend to be low-key affairs that tweak the noise-canceling algorithms and little else. But along with iOS 17's launch this month, AirPods Pro 2 got such deep and varied updates that they might almost be a new product. From Adaptive Audio to personalized volume to new stem-squeezing commands for phone calls, AirPods Pro 2 are now even more rad than before.
"When it comes to the AirPods Pro 2, I've been quite impressed with the Adaptive Audio mode. It does a fantastic job seamlessly switching between transparency and noise cancellation, creating a more comfortable listening experience, especially in noisy environments. As an AirPods owner, these nuanced improvements have definitely enhanced my overall audio enjoyment," Nikita Sherbina, co-founder and CEO of digital communication company AIScreen, told Lifewire via email.
AirPods Pro 2 Adapt to You
Let's talk about Adaptive Audio. It's a kind of halfway stop between Active Noise Canceling (ANC) and the already excellent Transparency mode, which lets you hear the sounds around you while ensuring your music or podcast audio is easy to hear.
Adaptive Audio acts just like regular transparency mode, only it still manages to cancel loud sounds. It's not instant, so the ANC isn't hopping in and out every second to annoy you. Instead, if you start up the kettle or coffee grinder or board a subway car, the cancelation kicks in after a short moment to take care of the noise.
In practice, it's amazing. It's my new default AirPods mode. It's not always quite as effective at canceling loud noises as full-on ANC, but sometimes it kind of is. The weird part is that your audio is still completely hearable even when the background sounds aren't suppressed as much. The only times I use ANC now are when the neighbors are having yet another late-night get-together on their roof terrace or when the other neighbors are doing intermittent construction work on the other side of my home office wall.
Related to Adaptive Audio are Conversation Awareness and Personalized Volume. The former detects when you are speaking to somebody and ducks your music. It also uses the AirPods' dual microphone arrays to focus on the person speaking and to enhance their voice while lowering background audio. If you and another person are both wearing AirPods Pro 2, you can enjoy calmer conversations in noisy environments.
Personalized Volume is less of a hit, for me at least. Like the auto-brightness on Apple's computer screens, it always seems to pick the wrong level, often slightly too low. Speaking to TechCrunch, Apple's VP of Sensing and Connectivity Ron Huang said that Personalized Volume uses machine learning to learn your preferences in various environments over time, so it might be worth persevering.
AirPods Stem Controls
This update isn't just about sound, either. There are also updates to the way they work. For example, you can now mute your audio during a call with a single squeeze on the AirPods' stem, with an optional double squeeze to end the call. Automatic switching between devices is also supposed to be quicker, and in my testing, when I pick up a device while I'm wearing my AirPods, they're almost always already connected. So that seems to work.
And, of course, the old stuff is there too, like being able to scan your ear-holes with your iPhone's Face ID camera to create a (surprisingly effective) custom Spatial Audio profile that makes the 3D audio sound much more natural. And there's the excellent AirPods Pro 2 Find My integration.
"I think one of the features that truly distinguishes the Apple AirPods 2 as a great audio tech product is the Apple hallmark Precision Finding feature," Shaun O'Brien, founder and managing director of Selby Acoustics, told Lifewire via email. "Plenty of other audio devices are able to deliver the best possible sound signature, improve active noise cancellation, and reduce background sound, but this particular functionality effectively enables an otherwise straightforward product to offer consumers a premium product that goes above and beyond its primary intended use."
All of this is a solid win for existing users and makes the AirPods Pro 2 even more enticing for potential buyers. I might have better-sounding headphones, but I rarely use them for anything except home music listening or creating music, where you really need the zero-latency wired connection. Other than that, my AirPods Pro 2s are in my ears more often than ever.
Read the original article on Lifewire.