As part of its iOS 17 launch, Apple is introducing a number of new software features across its AirPods lineup including a new Adaptive Audio mode with Conversation Awareness, faster Automatic Switching with other Apple devices, new microphone controls, and much more.
Adaptive Audio is a new mode available exclusively on the second-generation AirPods Pro. The new mode is a blend of Transparency and Active Noise Cancellation, and is designed to dynamically adjust the volume and level of outside noise depending on your external environment.
For example, noise cancellation ramps up to block unwanted external sounds like the noise of a busy crowd in the street or loud construction works. Adaptive Audio can also simultaneously allow certain sounds to skip noise cancellation and be heard more easily, like speaking to someone in a conversation or public transport announcements.
Part of Adaptive Audio, Personalized Volume uses machine learning algorithms to intelligently adjust and tweak the volume of audio playback based on your volume preferences and noise levels in your surrounding environment.
In another addition to Adaptive Audio, Conversation Awareness is a clever feature that automatically detects when you are wearing AirPods Pro and start speaking to someone else or vice versa. When this happens, Conversation Awareness lowers the volume of audio currently playing, reduces unwanted background noise, and even amplifies the voice of the person speaking to you.
During a call, you can now quickly mute or unmute your AirPods microphone with a single press on the stem of third-generation AirPods or all AirPods Pro generations. The feature also works on AirPods Max with a single press on the digital crown.
Apple says Automatic Switching between Apple devices when using AirPods is now quicker and more reliable. Faster Automatic Switching is supported on second and third-generation AirPods, first and second-generation AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max.
AirPods Firmware Update
To gain access to these new features, users need to upgrade their iPhones and iPads to iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, in addition to the latest AirPods firmware versions. According to Apple’s support document, the latest firmware versions for recent AirPods models are 6A301/6A300 with the following release notes:
When used with iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma, AirPods firmware update 6A300/6A301 takes the AirPods Pro (2nd generation) experience to the next level with Adaptive Audio, Conversation Awareness, and Personalized Volume. This update also adds convenience and control on calls with press to mute and unmute for AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generation), and AirPods Max, as well as significant improvements to the Automatic Switching experience for all available AirPods across Apple devices with the latest software updates.AirPods firmware release notes
Apple does not explicitly provide details on how to manually install new AirPods firmware, which the company says is installed automatically when AirPods are placed in their charging case and connected via Bluetooth to an iPhone, iPad, or Mac that is connected to Wi-Fi.