A lot of the things Apple introduced at its online WWDC keynote today were very much expected, but the company still managed to surprise us somewhat, with an update that’s coming to its true wireless earbuds.
Both the second-gen AirPods and AirPods Pro will get an automatic switching between devices feature. This will also make it to the Powerbeats, Powerbeats Pro, and Beats Solo Pro.
The way this works is that the headphones will automatically switch audio inputs based on which Apple device you’re using, or need to be using. If you’re listening to something on your iPhone but start playing a video on your MacBook, the earbuds will automagically switch over. And if then you get a call on your iPhone, the audio will switch to that. It all sounds very neat and seamless, provided, that is, that all of your devices are made by Apple.
The AirPods Pro are also getting a form of 3D sound, which Apple is calling Spatial Audio. This will give you a 3D, surround sound-like experience, and will constantly recalibrate where sounds feel like they’re coming from – based on the position of your head relative to whichever device you happen to be using.
So if you tilt your iPad, or your head, the earbuds will know and adjust things so that the sound always seems to come from the direction it was intended to. This should work best with movies, of course, and may sound like a gimmick – but actually a lot depends on implementation. If done right, it could be amazing, otherwise, just a nice thing to have.
For the moment it’s unclear when these features will roll out to Apple’s headphone roster through software updates, but we’ll keep you informed.