Your AirPods will get these smart new upgrades for free very soon

On Monday, Apple announced a raft of new features coming to its most popular devices later thanks to iOS 18 for the iPhone and iPadOS 18 for the iPad. But perhaps the most culturally hip Apple product of them all, the AirPods, also saw some love from the company, with several free upgrades coming to the pair in your pocket or in your ears later this year.

Well, only possibly the pair in your pocket to be honest – though several new updates were shown off for AirPods, all of them are only going to work on the latest second-generation AirPods Pro. That’s because they’re the only model of AirPods with Apple’s nifty H2 chip inside that can manage the smartest tech flourishes. Here’s what’s coming if you own the latest in-ear AirPods, as well as which features are coming to other versions.

Firstly, Apple showed a new perk called Siri Interactions that allow you to nod ot shake your head to say yes or no to certain things. Currently when using AirPods, Siri can optionally be turned on so it’ll announce who is calling when your phone rings and your earbuds are in. After the upcoming update, you’ll be able to nod or shake to either answer or reject the call hands-free. This will be great for interacting with calls if your hands are full and could also prove an excellent accessibility feature.

The AirPods Pro 2 are also getting something called Voice Isolation that uses the clever microphones buried in the buds to improve the sound of your voice to the person on the other end of the line when you’re on a call. Currently, AirPods Pro do a solid job of blocking out background noise for you with their noise cancellation tech, but now Apple says the buds will block out loud sounds around you for the caller too, making you easier to hear.

If you enjoy gaming on your iPhone or iPad with AirPods Pro (both first- or second-generation), third-generation AirPods or AirPods Max, you can now use Personalised Spatial Audio in compatible games. This audio setting already exists for these models of AirPods and creates a spatial soundstage for you, but until now only worked for music and TV apps. It also adds head tracking for even more immersive gaming.

Not only that, but gamers with AirPods Pro 2 will also be treated to 16-bit 48Hz audio for in-game chat, which will improve how your voice sounds to other gamers.

All these three updates bring a reduction in audio latency according to Apple, which basically means it should improve the lag between what’s happening on screen and the audio in your ears. This is one of the biggest challenges for wireless audio, and is more noticeable in gaming. It’s not clear which AirPods outside of AirPods Pro 2 this applies to, but hopefully all models.

We expect these nifty updates for AirPods to roll out for free when iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 hit iPhones and iPads later this year, most likely in September around the time of the expected launch of the iPhone 16.

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