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iOS 14's New AirPods Features: Spatial Audio, Better Automatic Device Switching, Battery Notifications and More

matrix07

macrumors 603
Jun 24, 2010
5,854
2,557
Would’ve been better is they allowed dual device connection like with $25 BT headphones.

No thanks. I have it on Bose QC and quickly use AirPods instead since it’s so annoying it’s hogging my microphone all the time even when I didn't use it. The way AirPods connects now is perfect. Auto switching will even make it better.
 

amartinez1660

macrumors 6502a
Sep 22, 2014
563
493
It should be noted that the Announce Messages with Siri Control Center toggle already exists in iOS 13 (I've had it for months now).
Yeah! And it works quite well. Don’t even know how it started working... I’m always with the AirPods around the house and can hear the music softly go mute: “hey! {name of person} says:” and reads the message. If that person sends a second one quick enough, it says along the lines “Also {name of person}” and reads the next message.
Not annoying, not robotic, nor taking for ever with weird voices tonalities. The clarity is spot on I think.
Definitely new for me.
 
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matrix07

macrumors 603
Jun 24, 2010
5,854
2,557
Yeah! And it works quite well. Don’t even know how it started working... I’m always with the AirPods around the house and can hear the music softly go mute: “hey! {name of person} says:” and reads the message. If that person sends a second one quick enough, it says along the lines “Also {name of person}” and reads the next message.
Not annoying, not robotic, nor taking for ever with weird voices tonalities. The clarity is spot on I think.
Definitely new for me.

I need to try this. 😀
 

amartinez1660

macrumors 6502a
Sep 22, 2014
563
493
On the audio accommodations Transparency Mode amplification definitely doesn’t work for me yet. I’ve seen this reported around the internet but so far it doesn’t do anything. I was kind of excited to try it as I have some hearing loss and I’m not quite to the point where I absolutely have to have a hearing aid.
It’s not quite the sound amplifier either, it’s more like how it would sound if you had no headphones on plus a tiny bit more (especially crunchy high pitch sounds), since even ANC off, the ear tips vacuum do already some noise cancelling.
 

Whoakapi

macrumors 6502
May 26, 2010
356
194
"Optimized Battery Charging" is bogus in its current state. It's a pseudo-feature just like TrueTone and NightShift.

I don't get the point of the "optimized charging" as it still takes the battery to 100%. It will not have a great impact that the battery is charged 80-100% in the morning instead some hours earlier. The key problem is that it's charging to 100% at all. The common Li-Ion research tells you to not charge above the 70-80% range. This is what has the biggest impact to battery wear, alongside avoiding heat and avoiding the deep discharge state.

The feature should provide a limit of 80% (or even better: user-defined). Then it would be useful.
 

menace3

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2008
573
160
Seattle, WA
Gawd I hope the Switching really works. I have been on a run or in the gym listening to a playlist on my watch. Then I forget and click a song on my phone and the AirPods plays nothing. I have to go to my locker and drop them back in the case to get them to reconnect to a device.
 

Marshall73

macrumors 68000
Apr 20, 2015
1,757
1,513
Spatial audio has been around for a couple of decades now. I have a set of Sony MDR-IF800's headphones that work with Sony's DP-IF8000 surround sound processor. Bought them 2nd hand on EBay at the turn of the millennium.
Frankly I'm surprised it's taken this long to get them working on something smaller.

EDIT: Yes, they also track head movement. You can turn this on/off using a switch on the headphones. Not that you ever use it because 99.99% of the time you will be facing a screen, watching a video.
The manual for them has 2001 as the date of publication.

So, just like a DSP faking surround sound in an amplifier. AirPods spatial sound is processing Dolby Atmos tracks to create its positional Audio, so, same same but different.
 
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fiddlebarb

macrumors newbie
Jul 24, 2020
2
0
I wonder which Macs will be compatible with the auto-switching. Of course only the ones who can run Big Sur, but will all of them be able to support it? What do you think?
[automerge]1595580367[/automerge]
Are any of these features coming to the Powerbeats Pro since it also has a H1 chip in it?
From Apple.com: Works with AirPods Pro, AirPods (2nd generation), Powerbeats, Powerbeats Pro, and Beats Solo Pro. Requires an iCloud account, and iPhone or iPod with the latest version of iOS; iPad with the latest version of iPadOS; Apple Watch with the latest version of watchOS; or Mac with the latest version of macOS.
 

sofila

macrumors 65816
Jan 19, 2006
1,091
1,202
Ramtop Mountains
Is Spatial audio a gimmick or something worth? I don't have any clue except from trashy clips found on the web that just annoyed me
 

RamGuy

macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2011
964
1,085
Norway
Most of this doesn't seem to require a new firmware as I have most of these features already with Developer BETA 3. And most of these are some really great additions if you ask me.

So far I have enabled Headphone Accommodations and set it to Balanced Tone with the boost set to slight. This is a rather huge improvements when listening to lower volume levels as it makes vocals become much more apparent, turning this on and off while listening to music and the original mode sounds muddied in comparison. The lower frequencies are overpowering the vocals at lower volumes.

I did also enable the Reduce Loud Sounds and I set it to 75 decibel. The time of having various YouTube videos with completely different volume adjustments between them so one is having really low volume while the other is tearing your ear drum apart will no longer be a thing.

When enabling this option you'll have to get accustomed to the volume levels of your AirPods being very different. When playing back a song on Apple Music with this feature disabled the hearing reports in control center reported 91 decibels at 100% volume. With this feature enabled it reported 65 decibels as at 100% volume. Which makes sense as having the option set at 75 decibel I suppose it scans the audio and tunes the 100% volume to peak at 75 decibel tops during the track, but when this option is disable there is no limitation in place.

But this also makes it so that when playing at 50% volume the song is actually at around 60-65 decibel without this feature enable. Meaning that 50% volume equals the same as 100% volume when this feature is enabled. There is no issue with this as I don't need it to be any louder, but I'm accustomed to having my AirPods Pro at about 20-30% volume mist of time, with reduce loud sounds set to 75 decibel I need to be at around 50% to have the same volume output as I used to have when having them at around 20-30%. This also makes it so that each time you click volume up/down on your iPhone each set is affecting the volume far less than before.

Automatic switching seems also to be active with BETA3. Running iOS 14 BETA3 and iPadOS 14 BETA3 and my AirPods Pro are now switching seamlessly.
 

RamGuy

macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2011
964
1,085
Norway
Does it also work with Big Sur?

Sadly no. I'm not sure if this is going to be a thing? I have Big Sur Developer BETA 3 installed and I had to select the AirPods Pro manually and once they are connected to my MacBook Pro I had to do it manually on my iPhone afterwards. It's seamless between my iPad and iPhone, but as soon as I toss my Mac into the mix it all goes out the window.

I'm not sure if this is going to be implemented on Big Sur at all? And none of the accessibility features are in Big Sur so no reduce loud sounds, no tweaking of the audio signature or anything. That feels rather awkward to be honest.
 

gustaw94

macrumors newbie
Jun 24, 2019
6
46
Poland
I don’t recommend anyone from my friends buying AirPods, cause it is planned obsolescence from Apple. They can said they green, ecology friendly, that their power is from renewable energy but after 3 years of using AirPods 1gen I can put them to the trash, cause first, I can’t change the battery for new one, buying new thing is not a matter about price but if I’m satisfied with 1gen, I should have opportunity to stay with them but now battery is for about 30 min-1 hour on the RIGHT AirPods (that’s my one way to work so it’s ok for me). Funny thing is with the left AirPod because is always disconnect from my  device after about 1-2 minutes of playing music etc with around 90% of battery. I’m not alone with this problem, I was looking through web, YouTube and a lot of people have the same issue and no one finde working help for this problem. So I hope that new software can help with but because obligatory buy news AirPods every two years it’s not for me.
 

RamGuy

macrumors 6502a
Jun 7, 2011
964
1,085
Norway
Planned obsolescence? It's more about basic physics. Current battery technology are not able to keep their capacity, it will reduce for every time all the cells are drained and re-charged. There is no way around it.

The reason why devices such as the AirPods feel like they have a shorter lifespan on the batteries is simply because they contain fewer cells compared to pretty much any other device you own. The AirPods are tiny, so obviously the batteries are tiny. The first generation AirPods have a 398 mah battery. You'll mostly drain at least half the battery cells each time you use them.

Lithium-ion batteries are expected to loose about 20-25% of their capacity after 250 cycles. If you are using your AirPods often you will most likely have at least one cycle per day. Let's say you might not use them every day so you have 5 cycles per week. That's 260 cycles per year. The battery life of the AirPods are 5 hours, if you loose 25% you are down to 3,75 hours and that's after one year of use. I think it safe to say that my AirPods are going through 1-2 cycles every day. That would mean that if I was using the Gen.1 I should expect that the battery life might drop to 2,5 hours after a single year of use.


There is no avoiding this. This is just how Lithium-ion batteries work and degrade. Of course having replaceable batteries would make it better but how do you keep the AirPods small and handy, keep them resistant to water and sweat but also feature a user replaceable battery? Doesn't seem all that feasible to me.

With all this in mind we can't really expect the AirPods to be lasting us for more than 1-3 years depending on how often and how much you use them and what kind of degradation of battery life you are able to put up with.


But I do agree that Apple should take this into account and make it so that the life expectancy of the AirPods is 3-5 years and if the only way to do this is to include one free replacement in order for customers to get AirPods with new batteries so Apple can refurbish your old ones so be it.
 

bpeeps

macrumors 68040
May 6, 2011
3,275
3,225
IIn addition, I don't want it to auto-switch to one of the devices due to some auto-playing ad or Facebook video.
And since the feature won't be available until the fall, no one can even test it yet to detail how it works
great point
I want them never to switch automatically.
And lastly, I don't want my AirPods switching to my Apple TV if someone in my house is using it while I'm using my AirPods elsewhere.

You guys have clearly never used ANY device with auto switching. It doesn't just automatically start playing sound from a new device you've picked up and are using. You have to STOP playing audio on one device and start playing it on your second device for it to auto-switch. Auto-switch does not equal auto-play. Auto switching just removes having to manually connect to a new device through settings or control center. This feature has been around forever on competitors like Jabra.
 

mnsportsgeek

macrumors 68030
Feb 24, 2009
2,694
2,869
You guys have clearly never used ANY device with auto switching. It doesn't just automatically start playing sound from a new device you've picked up and are using. You have to STOP playing audio on one device and start playing it on your second device for it to auto-switch. Auto-switch does not equal auto-play. Auto switching just removes having to manually connect to a new device through settings or control center. This feature has been around forever on competitors like Jabra.

I use the Jabra Evolve 65 everyday which can connect to two devices at once. No idea if it has auto-switching that you refer to, but it goes back and forth between those 2 devices. And frankly it is terrible. If a phone call came in on my cell phone while I was on a Skype call on my laptop, it would cause a mess of issues. Hopefully Apple auto-switching is better.

Will it also refrain from playing audio out of the speakers of my laptop while my AirPods transition from my phone to Mac to your knowledge?
 

roland.g

macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
6,871
2,204
Automatic Device Switching

Automatic device switching requires an iCloud account and it works on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and Apple Watch with the latest software versions installed. Automatic switching works with the AirPods Pro and the second-generation AirPods, and it is not compatible with the original AirPods. It also works with Powerbeats, Powerbeats Pro, and Beats Solo Pro.

BOO. That was one feature I was really looking forward to.
 

AFgixxer

macrumors regular
Jul 23, 2013
177
43
You think they will release new AirPods this year or am I safe to pick up pros now?
 

Seoras

macrumors 6502a
Oct 25, 2007
516
894
Scotsman in New Zealand
So, just like a DSP faking surround sound in an amplifier. AirPods spatial sound is processing Dolby Atmos tracks to create its positional Audio, so, same same but different.

Dolby Atmos. Just the next iteration of a long line of surround sound standards like Dolby Digital, Pro Logic, DTS, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 etc
AirPods pro are just 2, stereo, speakers. One in each ear. Just like the old Sony's headphones I have.
Both "faking surround sound".
So, yeah, the same.
 

zync

macrumors 68000
Sep 8, 2003
1,802
24
Tampa, FL
If they were so concerned about my hearing, they’d fix the bug that sends notifications at full blast if you’re connected but not listening to anything on AirPods pro.
 
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