Skip to main content

AirPods become more useful with Conversation Boost

Your AirPods won't just sound better, they'll be harder to lose, too

Apple didn’t unveil new AirPods but did highlight some new upgrades and features coming their way at its WWDC 2021 keynote. Conversation Boost will help those who have mild hearing impairments by focusing the AirPods Pro on whoever is speaking directly in front of them to better listen to what’s being said. The feature will also offer the ability to reduce some of the ambient noise to augment voices in the conversation.

Apple is also giving Siri something new to do, and that’s reading important time-sensitive notifications to you automatically. If you set a reminder for a certain location, like a grocery store, for instance, it will read the shopping list you created. It can do the same if you’ve ordered takeout and the driver is about to arrive at your door. You’ll have a choice over which apps to enable for this feature, though it’s not clear yet which ones will be ready when this feature goes live with iOS 15.

If you’re generally worried about misplacing or losing your AirPods, iOS 15 will let you use Apple’s Find My network to track down your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. They send out a secure Bluetooth beacon that other Apple devices can home in on, showing an approximate location to the network and the Find My app. Once you get close enough, you can trigger a sound from either pair of headphones, no matter if they’re in their case or not. Apple is also finally doing the reverse, pushing a separation alert to your iPhone or iPad if you leave the AirPods behind.

Not to leave audio playback out of this mix, Apple is piggybacking off the spatial audio it introduced last year in the AirPods Pro and added to the AirPods Max: The company is moving all of it over to tvOS as well. Wear either pair of AirPods, and you’ll be able to enjoy a show or movie with surround sound playing from an Apple TV. It will be available starting this fall, but only for those headphones, as Apple didn’t reveal anything for speakers or sound bars.

Apple already announced spatial audio for Apple Music, and that’s live as of June 7. It’s also coming to the Mac (including dynamic head tracking) on all computers running on the company’s M1 chipset. That excludes all the Intel-based Macs, and it doesn’t appear likely spatial audio will ever come to those devices, unfortunately.

Editors' Recommendations

Ted Kritsonis
A tech journalism vet, Ted covers has written for a number of publications in Canada and the U.S. Ted loves hockey, history…
Amazon’s new $50 Echo Buds take aim at Apple’s AirPods
Amazon's new Echo Buds for 2023.

Amazon is back with a new set of Echo Buds. Though they bear the same name as the first- and second-gen Echo Buds, these new Echo Buds offer an entirely different, semi-in-ear, stem-based design that has more in common with Apple's second-gen AirPods than it does with Amazon's previous designs. The latest Echo Buds are also surprisingly affordable at just $50.

While the decision to keep the name the same may be confusing, the decision to create a set of wireless earbuds with a semi-in-ear shape makes a lot of sense. Fully in-ear buds like the second-gen Echo Buds, the AirPods Pro, and Sony's WF-1000XM4, provide distinct advantages for sound quality and they also set the stage for active noise canceling (ANC). However, lots of people find these earbuds uncomfortable to wear. The silicone tips increase the sensation of having an object wedged in your ear, and some folks complain of a sucking feeling, especially when ANC is turned on.

Read more
This touchscreen AirPods case is the worst thing I’ve seen all week
Apple AirPods Pro 2 sitting beside iPhone 14 and charging case.

If you know me even the slightest bit, you’ll know that I’m a big Apple fan. I have an iPad, Apple Watch, and multiple Macs. And even though I’ve been diving into the world of Android phones, my primary device is still an iPhone 14 Pro. I also always have my AirPods Pro 2 with me, whether that’s at home or when I’m out at Disney parks — they're always on me in some way or another.

But as much as I like Apple, there are certainly some things that will make me scratch my head and go “Huh?” The latest one is what appears to be a new patent held by Apple that could lead to an AirPods case with an integrated interactive touchscreen.
The patent does what now?

Read more
AirPods Pro 2 may finally offer this charging feature
Apple AirPods Pro 2 inside their charging case.

Continuing with its move toward USB-C, Apple looks set to incorporate the connector into the charging case for its AirPods Pro earbuds, according to respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

The second generation of Apple's top-of-the-line earbuds, which the tech giant released in September last year, features a Lightning charging case. But Kuo, who has called it right in the past when it comes to Apple’s plans, said in a recent tweet that Apple is “likely” to start selling a USB-C charging case with Apple’s premium buds, adding that it could start shipping as early as the second quarter of this year.

Read more