Last year, Apple introduced a major update to its top wireless earbuds with the release of AirPods Pro 2. Now, Apple is upping that number to 11 by adding five brand-new features to the second-generation AirPods Pro—no hardware upgrade required.
AirPods Pro 2 already has three noise cancellation modes. Noise cancellation effectively quiets the world around you. Transparency of sound around you while your ears are plugged. And “off… off” was the sound of in-ear headphones before the AirPods Pro. Damp and subdued. You’re probably using noise reduction or transparency.
Enter adaptive audio. You may never need the other two modes again.
Adaptive Mode “dynamically combines Transparency Mode and Active Noise Cancellation based on the user’s environment to deliver the best experience in the moment,” Apple says.
And it works like a charm.
Adaptive Audio lets you enjoy transparency while washing dishes, then smoothly adjust the noise cancellation when you turn on the vacuum cleaner. You won’t even notice that the mode has switched because the audio playback sounds stable. The return of ambient sounds around you will amaze you as you notice what just happened.
Since the very first version in 2017, AirPods have always allowed you to mute the sound and tune in to the world. With Auto Pause, you simply remove the AirPod from your ear and playback stops. Cleverly.
Conversation Awareness is a new take on a similar idea.
If you’re talking with Conversation Awareness enabled, AirPods Pro 2 can automatically lower the volume and enhance the voices of people speaking in front of you. While this is happening, Conversation Awareness will actively reduce background noise behind you.
In other words, it will finally be possible to talk in a bar. What? I’m not turning you off, I’m doing it because I care! But seriously, this allows you to listen to music and say hello to someone passing by without even touching your AirPods.
Mute or unmute sound
Muting or unmuting may not seem as mind-blowing as adaptive audio and conversation recognition, but it’s just as handy if you’ve ever used the AirPods Pro 2 for a phone call. Now you can easily mute any call through AirPods by pressing the lever. Press again to unmute. No need to take out your phone.
But wait, there’s more. Personalized Volume is a new feature powered by machine learning that allows AirPods to “understand environmental conditions and listening preferences over time to automatically adjust media playback quality.”
Automatic switching is a feature of moving between Apple devices that has been around for some time. According to Apple, the update to this feature now means that “connection times between a user’s Apple devices are significantly faster and more reliable.”
So, here’s what’s new in iOS 17 for AirPods Pro 2, starting today. Improvements to Adaptive Audio, Conversation Support, Mute or Unmute, Personalized Volume, and Auto Switch are available after updating to iOS 17.