AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro Cult of Mac Superguide image
With the second-gen AirPods Pro, Apple made its noise-canceling earbuds even better.

AirPods Pro are a line of premium wireless earbuds from Apple. They offer advanced features not available in non-Pro AirPods, most notably active noise cancellation (ANC).

The second-generation from 2022 look almost exactly like the original model released in 2019, but they’re upgraded in every way that matters most, thanks mainly to a new H2 processor.

In 2023, Apple released a tweaked version that put a USB-C port in the wireless earbud’s charging case, in place of the old Lightning port. Otherwise, they are nearly identical to their predecessors, aside from lossless audio when paired with an Apple Vision Pro. These are still called AirPods Pro 2.

The latest models use built-in microphones and advanced algorithms to continuously adapt to the user’s ear and the environment, actively canceling out external noise for a quieter listening experience. But they also have transparency mode to enable users to hear their surroundings while still listening to music or taking calls.

AirPods Pro come with silicone ear tips in three different sizes (small, medium, large) to provide a customizable and comfortable fit for a wide range of ear shapes.

Read Cult of Mac’s latest posts on AirPods Pro:

AirPods Pro will let you answer calls by nodding your head

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Answer or reject calls by nodding or shaking your head while wearing AirPods Pro.
Answer or reject calls by nodding or shaking your head while wearing AirPods Pro.
Photo: Apple

Apple Let Loose Event: You’ll soon be able to answer or reject phone calls with a nod or shake of your head, Apple said Monday.

AirPods Pro will gain the ability to answer calls or reject them by silently nodding or shaking your head, Apple said during Monday’s WWDC keynote.

How to get the latest AirPods Pro firmware update

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How to get the latest AirPods Pro 2 firmware update
AirPods Pro 2 have new firmware. Get it now.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

First off: There’s no direct way to update AirPods firmware. When Apple updates AirPods software — as it just did for AirPods Pro 2 — the update happens automatically, in the background. However, there is a way to speed up the update process. Plus, it’s a good idea to manually check you’re running the latest version, which brings bug fixes and sometimes great new features.

As noted, Apple most recently released fresh firmware for AirPods Pro 2, taking the truly wireless earbuds to 6F7. (You can find other current AirPods firmware versions below.)

Here’s how to check if your AirPods are running the latest firmware on iPhone, iPad and Mac. Plus what to do if they aren’t, and how to force AirPods’ firmware to update.

Apple Hearing Study sounds alarm on high rates of tinnitus

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Apple Hearing Study's tinnitus update
The Apple Hearing Study's tinnitus update sounded off about the condition's prevalence and characteristics.
Photo: Apple

In one of the largest surveys on tinnitus so far, University of Michigan researchers participating in the Apple Hearing Study released data and insights Tuesday that could help lead to future treatment.

Tinnitus is the perception of sound, often ringing, that others do not hear.

“The Apple Hearing Study gives us an opportunity that was not possible before to improve our understanding of tinnitus across demographics, aiding current scientific knowledge that can ultimately improve management of tinnitus,” said Rick Neitzel, a University of Michigan School of Public Health professor of environmental health sciences.

Beats Fit Pro vs. AirPods Pro 2: Which earbuds are better?

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AirPods Pro 2 vs. Beats Fit Pro comparison
Which earbuds work better with your iPhone?
Photo/Graphics: Apple/Rajesh

If you want new wireless earbuds for your iPhone, the second-generation AirPods Pro are likely your top choice. But Apple offers another pair of earbuds you might consider: Beats Fit Pro. In this Beats Fit Pro vs. AirPods Pro 2 buying guide, we’ll compare the features of these two premium noise-canceling earbuds from Apple.

Do these earbuds provide the same features and sound quality as Apple’s flagship earbuds? Find out in this comparison.

AirPods Pro 2 price drops to new low at just $179.99

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AirPods Pro in an open case.
With this sale, you can get AirPods Pro with the coveted USB-C case for just $179.99!
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

AirPods Pro are the best pair of wireless earbuds you can buy for your iPhone. And a fantastic new deal knocks the AirPods Pro 2 price down to a new low of just $179.99, making them an even better buy.

With that hefty 28% discount off Apple’s retail price of $249, it’s hard to recommend any other earbuds for your iPhone, Mac or iPad. And yes, this is for the latest model with the USB-C charging case.

Get ready for ‘the biggest AirPods launch to date’

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Apple needs to take the frustration out of AirPods firmware updates
With ANC, AirPods 4 might be a significant jump up from its predecessor.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple suppliers are reportedly preparing for “the biggest AirPods launch to date.” The company is supposedly planning to produce between 20 million and 25 million units of AirPods 4, a significant jump from previous models.

Apple could launch the AirPods 4 in two flavors later this year: one with ANC and another without. Alongside updated internals, the new earbuds purportedly will sport a sleeker new design.

How to use AirPods as hearing aids

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AirPods Pro and Transparency Mode make for fine hearing aids.
AirPods Pro and Transparency Mode make for fine hearing aids.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

AirPods can work surprisingly well as hearing aids. Thanks to Transparency mode, AirPods Pro will boost the sound of your environment around you. They can give you freaky Spiderman super-hearing if you boost input volume to the max. And Conversation Boost on the latest AirPods Pro 2 can intelligently raise the volume of people talking to you (while lowering the volume of your music or podcasts).

My prescription hearing aids were out of action recently due to a battery problem, so for a few weeks, I used my AirPods Pro as hearing aids.

For the most part, they’ve been pretty good. They work best when set up properly, which is a bit of a chore, but here’s how to do it.

iOS 18 could bring hearing aid functionality to AirPods Pro

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iOS 18 could bring hearing aid functionality to AirPods Pro
Conversation Boost in current AirPods Pro acts like a hearing aid but Apple reportedly wants to go farther.
Graphic: Apple

AirPods Pro might be able to act more like a hearing aid with the release of iOS 18, according to an Apple tipster.

The additional audio function would benefit those with slight hearing loss who aren’t ready for more serious hearing assistance.

Clock ticks on killer iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods refurb deals

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Deals on Apple refurbished gear - iPhone 13 Pro
On the deals list: iPhone 13 Pro (and various minis!)
Photo: Apple

Amazon bargain site Woot! is quietly offering some fantastic refurbished Apple gear deals, including iPhones, Apple Watches and AirPods.

Woot refers to its deals lineup as “basically an Apple soup.” It’s your chance to slurp up bargains (if you don’t need the newest gadgets).

The sale ends Monday, February 26, at 10 p.m. PT.

Get up to $100 off AirPods Max while you can

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AirPods Max on charging stand
Getting $100 off the top-shelf cans is a good deal, even with an updated version on the way.
Photo: Floating Pixels

In what appears to be the first big discount on Apple’s $549 over-ear, noise-canceling headphones in 2024, you can currently get up to $100 off AirPods Max at Amazon and Best Buy ($449.99).

The last time folks had a shot at a deal like this was Black Friday 2023. It’s not clear how long the deals might last. And other AirPods models are also on sale.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.

This little gadget keeps your Apple Watch going anywhere

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qCharge 2.0 can go pretty much anywhere you go.
qCharge 2.0 can go pretty much anywhere you go.
Photo: Citius Systems

Apple devices are known for their beautiful designs and user-friendly functionality — not their battery power. Apple Watch is no exception, needing daily charging. So sometimes the battery runs low when you’re not near a charger. But a brand-new gadget fixes that problem.

qCharge 2.0 Portable Apple Watch Battery, now available in the Cult of Mac Store, goes wherever you go and charges up your Apple Watch (and AirPods Pro 2) anywhere, no cable required.

Good monitor arms ‘go a long way’ [Setups]

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Mac Studio setup with three mounted displays
This user swears by the arms his 4 displays are mounted on.
Photo: TheJTizzle@Reddit.com

Sure, you can buy a computer monitor and set it up on the stand that came in the box. But what if you want to easily move the external display around? And what if you want to have multiple screens and move them around?

Keeping monitors up off the desk and mobile can really improve your setup. And the best way to do that is to mount your screens on arms. It takes some effort, but as today’s user points out below, it’s worth it.

Take your pick of hefty discounts on AirPods models

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AirPods Pro 2
AirPods Pro 2 are seeing a solid discount right now on Amazon.
Photo: Apple

Amazon is offering discounts on all Apple AirPods models right now, including some hefty ones. Depending on the right model for you, you might save as much as 24% off the regular price, or about $60.

Even AirPods Max over-ear headphones are priced down a bit, with prices ranging from $495 to $535 depending upon which color you choose (under the regular $549 price).

AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C hits lowest price ever

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AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C
Right now you can get 24% off AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C on Amazon.
Photo: Apple

Happy New Year — and it will no doubt be happier if you can nab AirPods Pro 2 with a USB-C charging case, which has returned to its lowest price yet. Maybe that’ll even motivate you to exercise more, if by chance you set certain New Year’s resolutions along those lines and could use the help of Apple’s top earbuds.

Amazon is selling the updated noise-canceling earbuds for $189, down from $249. That’s the best price we’ve seen. And you can find discounts on other Apple earbuds, too.

What to expect from AirPods and AirPods Max in 2024

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AirPods in 2024
Expect to see two versions of AirPods 4 -- including one with noise canceling -- in 2024.
Photo: Cult of Mac

In an effort to boost sales and clarify offerings, Apple will revamp its AirPods lineup in 2024, reports have indicated — but that won’t include updates for every product.

AirPods 4 should arrive next year, with two versions replacing current lower-priced earbuds models. And AirPods Max will receive some long-awaited updates, although the pricey over-ear headphones won’t get a major revamp. And as for what comes after AirPods Pro 2, we’ll have to wait until early 2025, most likely.

This AirPods Pro 2 sale comes with an extra you’ll love

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Deal alert: AirPods Pro 2 sale
Get Apple's latest, greatest earbuds at a super-low price ... and enjoy a welcome perk!
Image: Cult of Mac

If you’re in the market for Apple earbuds, second-gen AirPods Pro with a USB-C case are the earbuds to beat. And this hot new AirPods Pro sale slashes the $249 list price down to just $199.99 … and it comes with AppleCare+!

Plus, if you order by 11:59 a.m. Pacific on Wednesday, December 20, you can take delivery by Christmas.

The only (potential) drawback is that this AirPods Pro deal is for Costco members only. But never fear: If you’re not already a member, Cult of Mac Deals offers a great deal on a Costco membership that will let you save money on Apple gear every day of the year.

Apple readies AirPods 4 with noise cancellation, plans AirPods Max update

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AirPods 4 are coming in 2024
Expect to see two versions of AirPods 4 -- including one with noise canceling -- in 2024.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple will revamp its AirPods lineup in 2024 in an effort to boost sales and clarify offerings, a new report indicates.

AirPods 4 should arrive next year, with two versions replacing current lower-priced earbuds models. And AirPods Max will receive some long-awaited updates, although the pricey over-ear headphones won’t get a major revamp.

Best (and worst) gear of 2023 [The CultCast]

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A red question mark atop a winner's podium.
What gear and amusements made us smile (and kvetch) in 2023?
Image: Joshua Golde/Unsplash License/Cult of Mac

This week on Cult of Mac’s podcast: After a quick spin through the news of the week, we get down to business with our second round of picks for the best and worst tech and entertainment of 2023.

Also on The CultCast:

  • Would you pay 99 bucks for a USB-C case for AirPods Pro? I think the price is outrageous, but not everyone is so sure.
  • Apple just raised the bar for authorities who might want to spy on your iPhone’s push notifications.
  • A new iPhone security feature will soon make it harder for thieves to wreck your life.
  • And the latest on how Apple might be forced to open up iPhone to appease regulators.

Listen to this week’s episode of The CultCast in the Podcasts app or your favorite podcast app. (Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review if you like it!) Or watch the video live stream, embedded below.

Nab killer holiday deals on iPhone, Apple Watch, AirPods and Beats

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Best Buy sale Apple Watch Ultra 2
Best Buy offers $50 off Apple Watch Ultra 2, among many other bargains.
Photo: Apple

While Best Buy offers great deals on MacBooks, iMacs, Macs mini and iPads in its Apple Sales Event for the holidays, you can also score good deals on iPhones, Apple Watches and AirPods. See the selection below, or check out the whole sale here.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.

Today in Apple history: AirPods arrive to conquer the audio world

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Today in Apple history: They looked weird at first, but now it's impossible to remember a world without AirPods.
They looked weird at first, but now it's impossible to remember a world without AirPods.
Photo: Dagny Reese/Unsplash License

December 13: Today in Apple history: Original AirPods launch December 13, 2016: After months of anticipation and delay, Apple finally releases AirPods. The tiny wireless earbuds arrive in Apple’s online store just in time for holiday shoppers looking for stocking stuffers.

Like so many Apple products, they aren’t the first such earbuds to arrive on the scene. However, AirPods’ rapid success will fuel a wireless listening revolution.

AirPods Pro 2 drop back to Black Friday price after 24% discount

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AirPods Pro 2 in hand with case opened
Here's another chance at getting the AirPods Pro 2 at their Black Friday price.
Source: Unsplash

Amazon is once again running an insane deal on the AirPods Pro 2, dropping them to their Black Friday price. You can get the earbuds for $189.99, a whopping $59 off their $249 MSRP.

With no AirPods Pro successor coming anytime soon, Apple’s 2nd gen earbuds are the best earphones you can get for your iPhone.

AirPods gift guide: Choose the best models and accessories

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AirPods Buying Guide: Choosing the best models and accessories
Gifting AirPods for the holidays? Here's all you need to know.
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

A gift that always goes down well with Apple fans, no matter the time of year, is a brand-new pair of AirPods. But it’s important to ensure you pick the right pair out of the four on offer if you really want to impress.

In our AirPods buying guide, we’ll help you choose between AirPods 2, AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max — and highlight some of the best cases and charging accessories to go with them.

AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C are now an amazing 24% off [Still available!]

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AirPods Pro with USB-C port and charging cable
The new version of AirPods Pro 2 leaves Lightning behind in favor of USB-C. And it's on sale!
Photo: Apple

A crazy good deal on the new AirPods Pro 2 with USB-C case lets you save $60 off the retail price. And this despite the wireless earbuds being on the market for just over a month.

Apple’s new top-of-the-line wireless earbuds take advantage of all the latest new bells and whistles in iOS 17. Plus, they bring additional new features besides the port change, including additional dust resistance and the promise of high-res audio when paired with Apple Vision Pro.