HomeTech GiantsAppleImproved transparency mode for AirPods Pro and Max seems to be in...

Improved transparency mode for AirPods Pro and Max seems to be in the pipeline

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Apple could bring one of the central innovations of the AirPods Pro 2 to older models. The “adaptive transparency” should protect against loud noises.

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Apple’s improved transparency mode could soon be available on older AirPods as well: first users with access to the beta firmware of the earbuds report that in the pre-release version of iOS 16.1 a switch to activate the new function “adaptive transparency” appears – both on AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro first generation as well as on AirPods Max.

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In transparency mode, the AirPods models conduct the external noise instead of isolating the user with active noise cancellation or dampening the external noise solely by wearing the earplugs or headphones. The transparency mode can also be used as a hearing aid, for example to better understand voices.

So far, Apple has only announced the adaptive transparency mode for the new second-generation AirPods Pro: They should automatically reduce particularly loud external noise such as construction site noise or the siren of an emergency vehicle, but continue to let normal external noise through. So far, letting through sudden noise has created a particularly unpleasant background noise in transparency mode unless users switch to active noise cancellation themselves.

Apple advertises the adaptive transparency mode as one of the innovations of the H2 chip, which has only been integrated into the AirPods Pro 2 so far, and has not promised the function for the older AirPods model series either. The transparency mode is only available on AirPods with active noise cancellation (ANC) and is therefore not found on the “normal” AirPods of the first, second or current third generation.

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For the time being, it remains to be seen whether this will actually be submitted later or whether the switch is just a bug in the beta, on the AirPods the firmware build 5A304a is required for this. The function is still unreliable and sometimes switches itself off again, users report. Other features like personalized 3D audio by scanning the earcup are also present on the older AirPods Pro 1, AirPods Max, and AirPods 3.

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