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Apple preps AirPods Pro for iOS 14’s spatial audio and quick switching

On Monday, September 14, Apple quietly updated the firmware for the AirPods Pro to version 3A283, which contains the necessary tweaks to enable two major new iOS 14 features: Spatial audio and quick switching.

But if you don’t see any change when you look at your AirPods Pro settings, it’s probably because these new features are only fully enabled if you’re using iOS 14, which is still in beta. Apple plans to do a general release of iOS 14 this fall, and it will likely announce the date for that release at Tuesday’s Apple event.

The update was spotted by AppleInsider, and if you want to see if your AirPods Pro received the new firmware, here’s how:

  • Make sure your AirPods Pro are connected (simply open the charging case, or remove the earbuds from the case).
  • On your iOS or iPadOS device, got to the Settings app.
  • Tap General.
  • Tap About.
  • Scroll down to AirPods Pro (they may be called Name’s AirPods Pro) and tap on that item.
  • Check the firmware version. If it says “3A283,” you’ve got the latest version.

If you see another version ID, make sure your AirPods Pro are fully charged and connected to your Apple device. They should receive the firmware update automatically.

If you have the latest firmware and you’re using the beta version of iOS14, you’ll be able to see the new settings too.

Go to Settings, then Bluetooth, and tap the “i” icon beside the item listing for your AirPods Pro. You should see a new item for Spatial Audio, and a switch to enable or disable it.

Apple has said that spatial audio will deliver a more immersive, theater-like sound experience for all kinds of content, but the clear advantage will be for movies. The iPhone has always been Dolby Atmos compatible, but until spatial audio, there wasn’t an easy way to hear the full impact of Dolby’s 3D surround sound format on a set of true wireless earbuds.

Quick switching, or “automatic handoff” will make the job of switching the AirPods Pro between two Apple devices even easier than it is today. At the moment, you must manually switch you iMac’s sound settings to use the AirPods Pro if they are currently connected to an iPhone or iPad. After iOS 14, that task will be automatic if you want. Simply start a new audio stream on the second device, and the AirPods Pro will switch to that new source.

For all of the latest news from Apple, make sure to join us for our live coverage of Apple’s September event, today, starting at 10 a.m. PT.

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Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
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