Skip to main content

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
Apple has upgraded the AirPods Pro with lossless audio, sort of
Apple AirPods Pro with USB-C.

Amid the slew of new Apple products launched today, only the tiniest mention was made of the fact that Apple has also given the AirPods Pro Gen 2 wireless earbuds a not-so-minor refresh. Along with the expected addition of USB-C, making the AirPods Pro the first Apple headphones to ditch the Lightning connector, Apple has also given the iconic white noise-canceling earbuds the ability to do lossless audio wirelessly -- something that has never been seen on the AirPods family before, and is even a rarity among non-Apple wireless audio devices.

There is, however, a catch. The "groundbreaking wireless audio protocol" that allows for lossless audio at 20-bit/48 kHz (a better-than-CD-quality resolution) is powered by the AirPods Pro's H2 chip, but for now, it only works when paired with the upcoming Apple Vision Pro headset. At the moment, Qualcomm's aptX Lossless Bluetooth codec (when used with compatible wireless headphones and smartphones) is the only technology that supports lossless audio wirelessly, and even that technology is limited to 16-bit/48kHz.

Read more
Second-generation AirPods Pro have USB-C now, too
Apple AirPods Pro with USB-C.

In one of the least-kept surprises of today's iPhone 15 event, Apple announced that the second-generation AirPods Pro are switching to USB-C for their charging case.

That's a big deal because they'll now use the same charger as the iPad and MacBook — and also because they can use any other USB-C cable that you've got laying around. And because we're not talking about a device with a huge battery capacity, you don't need to worry so much about whether you have the right USB-C cable. Things should charge just fine, and fast enough, given that the battery case only sports a 523 mAh battery.

Read more
This accessory turned my AirPods into a giant mech head
CASETiFY Evangelion Type-01 AirPods Pro 2 case front side view.

You’ve probably heard of a tech accessory brand called Casetify by now. It’s one of the higher-quality brands of tech accessories out there, and it’s particularly known for having a ton of customizable products, as well as many unique collaborations with artists and well-established brands — including Disney, Star Wars, Peanuts, and more.

The Evangelion x Casetify is one of the latest collaborations that the company has launched, and it should appeal to anyone who is a fan of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime and manga series. There was even an “Impact!” launch event in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, where a 4-meter tall, 7-meter wide EVA–01 bust was put on display, with the mecha holding a Casetify Impact case that features an iconic NERV design.

Read more