How to stop accidentally switching off noise cancellation in AirPods Pro

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Keep AirPods Pro noise cancellation switched on -- permanently.
Keep noise cancellation switched on -- permanently.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you have a pair of AirPods Pro, then you know all about noise cancellation. That’s kind of the whole point of Apple’s top-tier AirPods, from the noise-sealing silicone tips to the software Ear Tip Fit Test. You probably also know that you can deactivate noise cancellation, and even quick-switch modes by squeezing the shaft of one of the earbuds.

But what if you never want to disable the excellent active noise cancellation on your AirPods Pro? Maybe you keep accidentally deactivating the feature (like I do). Today we’ll see how to switch off the shaft-squeezing shortcuts — and how to access them from your iPhone’s lock screen instead.

Siri’s been reading my messages and I love it

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Announce Messages with Siri
Getting Siri to read iMessages is AirPod Pro’s best feature.
Photo: Cult of Mac

As of iOS 13, you can have your iPhone read out incoming iMessages through your AirPods. And this — along with their awesome sound and noise-canceling abilities — is my favorite feature of the AirPods Pro. On paper, it’s a small feature in a long list. But in everyday use, Announce Messages with Siri makes a huge difference in how I use my iPhone.

Check out these hidden AirPods Pro settings on your iPhone

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AirPods Pro settings
Check out these advanced settings for your AirPods Pro.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

By now, you already know how to customize the regular stuff on your AirPods and AirPods Pro. You just find them in the list of connected Bluetooth gadgets, and tap the i button to see a list of handy settings. But what about deeper-level customization? Like most things in iOS, there’s an extra set of advanced AirPods Pro settings inside the Accessibility settings. You even change double-squeeze speed of the AirPods Pro stems if you want to slow things down.

Let’s take a look.

10 things you (probably) didn’t know about the iPhone

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10-facts-iPhone
Get ready for some iPhone trivia!
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Even if you’re a die-hard Apple fan, there’s still plenty you most likely don’t know about the company’s most popular product. And, whether you want to wow your Apple-loving in-laws over the holidays or just feel the need to fill your brain with some iPhone facts, we’ve got you covered.

Here are 10 things you (probably) don’t know about the iPhone.

Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant

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Sorry, Alexa: Siri still the most widespread AI assistant
Siri is found on a whole lot of devices.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Thanks to Amazon’s Echo devices, Alexa is probably the AI assistant most likely to come up in a conversation. But Siri is still the most popular virtual assistant of them all.

According to a new report by Futuresource Consulting, Siri currently leads the virtual assistant pack with a 35% global marketshare. Google Assistant follows behind with 9% of the marketshare, while Alexa makes up just 4% of AI assistants.

Apple joins rivals to create open standard for smart home devices

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Abode Iota is a security system by itself
Building your smart home is about to get a whole lot easier.
Photo: Abode

Apple is teaming up with Amazon, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance to create a new open and royalty-free standard for smart home devices.

Project “Connected Home over IP” aims to increase compatibility among smart home gadgets and make development easier for device manufacturers. It should also simplify smart technology for consumers.

Siri corrects weatherman during a live broadcast

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Siri corrects weatherman during a live broadcast
"Not now, Siri!"
Photo: BBC

The great thing about having Siri built into your Apple Watch is that it’s always there when you need it. The bad thing about it is that it’s there when you don’t need it, too.

BBC Weather meteorologist Tomasz Schafernaker recently ran into an embarrassing mishap on live TV when describing snow in the US Midwest. At that point, Siri kicked in to correct him, saying there was actually no snow forecast.

macOS Mail bug exposes portions of encrypted emails

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MacMail
Your encrypted emails on Mac might not be as private as you think.
Photo: Apple

Apple failed to kill a bug in the Mail app for macOS for months despite its potential to expose private details in emails that the user thought was encrypted.

Security researcher Bob Gendler first discovered the flaw in July and notified Apple of it. Despite releasing four updates for macOS since that time, the privacy flaw still hasn’t been fixed. Apple says it’s working to resolve the issue soon though.

Spanish Siri labels Bolivian president a ‘dictator’

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Spanish Siri labels Bolivian president a ‘dictator’
Siri's getting political. (Until Apple fixed it.)
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Siri is in trouble again — or, at least, Siri’s Spanish-speaking cousin. According to a new report, the Spanish language version of Siri has been criticized for describing long-standing Bolivian president Evo Morales as a “dictator.”

Morales recently won a controversial fourth presidential term in Bolivia. However, thousands of citizens have marched across the country decrying voter fraud. It seems that Spanish language Siri was spiritually among them.

How to play relaxing, ambient sounds with your HomePod

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HomePod, Siri, music
What could be more relaxing than this?
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Stressed? On edge? Struggling to block out the annoying construction work down the street? Or do you just hate silence, and the way it reminds you that your life is tick-ticking away? Then you need some room-filling ambient sounds.

How about a nice, relaxing rainstorm to help you fall asleep? Or some white noise to fill the space left by your grownup children when they left you behind to start their own lives? If you have a HomePod running iOS 13.2 or later, your smart speaker stands ready to help blank out the soul-bleeding silence of your empty life. You just need to ask.