An upcoming software update will add multiple new listening modes to AirPods Pro 2. These are designed to make it easier for the user to listen to music while also hearing what’s going on around them.
Apple also announced at WWDC23 that all AirPods will get better at switching connections between devices, plus a change intended to make conference calls easier.
New features only for AirPods Pro 2
While many of the enhancements announced Monday are only for AirPods Pro 2, Apple isn’t requiring everyone to buy new wireless earbuds to get them. They’ll come via a free software update to existing earbuds.
These premium AirPods already support Active Noise Cancellation. They also offer Transparency mode, which allows the user to hear what’s going on around them. The upcoming software update will merge these into Adaptive Audio.
“This new listening mode will seamlessly tailor the noise control experience while users move between environments and interactions that are constantly changing throughout the day,” says Apple.
Conversation Awareness will detect that an AirPods Pro 2 user is speaking and automatically lower the volume of playing music and enhance the voices in front of the user, while reducing background noise at the same time.
Apple’s top-tier wireless earbuds will also get Personalized Volume, which will use AI to tweak the wearer’s listening experience based on their environmental conditions and listening preferences.
Improvements for all AirPods
Other AirPods aren’t getting completely left out. Apple also promised at WWDC23 on Monday that it’s working on improving Automatic Switching, the system that lets a pair of earbuds easily move between iPhone, iPad and Mac. After the update, “the connection time between a user’s Apple devices is significantly faster and more reliable,” the company promised.
Also, a new Mute or Unmute feature will enable users to press the stem — or the Digital Crown on AirPods Max — to quickly mute or unmute themselves on calls.
The latter feature will be available for AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generations), AirPods (3rd generation), and AirPods Max.
Apple didn’t give a specific date for the release of the firmware updates that will make these changes, just promising they’ll be available this autumn.