Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

AirPods Pro gain nod, shake and voice isolation, but not AirPods Max

If ever there was a sign that an AirPods Max refresh was on the cards, it’s the news of the AirPods Pro getting a feature that its more expensive big brother misses out on.

With Apple’s WWDC on, you can expect plenty of news coming out about what’s coming for folks living in the Apple ecosystem. What’s coming for iPhone and iPad, and what’s coming for other Apple gadgets, as well.

Amongst these announcements is word that Apple’s contribution to the world of noise cancelling earphones is also getting an update, with iOS 18 set to include an update for the AirPods Pro 2nd-gen.

The addition will bring two features to the pair of popular earphones, which is becoming something of a thing for Apple updates. You don’t just get what the earphones came with at launch, but can see changes here and there.

A few years ago, Apple heralded the arrival of head-tracked spatial audio for AirPods Pro, something that popped up in the first-generation AirPods Pro and then carried over to the subsequent current second-gen model.

Last year, Apple showcased the addition of adaptive audio in the AirPods Pro, a noise cancellation mode that jumped between ANC and hear-through transparency modes to essentially adapt to the environment, letting you hear both and be sealed within a bubble of sound. The best of both worlds, so to speak.

And this year, Apple is doing that again: announcing an update for the AirPods Pro that will see additions to the earphones to let you do that little bit more.

The first is called “Siri Interactions”, and it essentially allows you to nod or shake your head to respond to Siri when you don’t — or can’t — speak out loud. For instance, if you’re in bed watching a TV show while your partner is asleep, and someone calls, you can shake your head to deflect the call instead of waking your partner up.

The feature will work for dealing with phone calls Siri announces to you, but should also work with other Siri interactions, including notifications, messages, and more.

Apple’s other feature addition is a voice isolation feature, that will leverage the H2 chip inside the AirPods Pro and aim to separate your voice from background noise, improving talking during calls.

Interestingly, because the feature relies on the H2 chip, it won’t be supported in Apple’s more expensive pair of headphones, the AirPods Max. Now approaching four years old, the excellent headphones are beginning to miss out on new features, possibly because they rely on the H1 chip in each cup, as opposed to the more recent H2.

A new model is expected this year, both because four years is a long time in headphones and the AirPods Max are one of the last Apple gadgets with a Lightning port, but they at least will see a feature update, alongside the third-gen AirPods and AirPods Pro 2nd-gen. That feature is sees personal spatial audio with dynamic head-tracking rolling out in gaming, though only the AirPods Pro will support low-latency audio, it seems.

We’ll know more when the feature rolls out soon enough, and will be a part of the iOS 18 release later this year.

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