Apple has released new firmware for AirPods and AirPods Pro today, enabling new iOS 14 features including spatial audio and automatic device switching. Today’s firmware update brings AirPods and AirPods Pro to version 3A283 firmware.
The spatial audio feature is exclusive to AirPods Pro, and the toggle is accessible via Control Center when your AirPods Pro are connected. In Control Center, simply long-press on the volume slider and look for the spatial audio toggle. You should also find spatial audio controls in the Bluetooth section of the Settings app.
Apple says that spatial audio is an immersive experience using directional audio filters to “play sounds virtually anywhere in space, creating an immersive sound experience.” This will put surround channels exactly in the right spot, even as you turn your head or move your device. So it’s kind of like replacing the immersive experience that surround sound usually provides with AirPods.
Here’s how Apple describes the spatial audio feature for AirPods Pro users:
Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking brings the movie theater experience right to your AirPods Pro.11 By applying directional audio filters and subtly adjusting the frequencies each ear receives, spatial audio can place sounds virtually anywhere in space, creating an immersive surround sound experience. Using the gyroscope and accelerometer in your AirPods Pro and your iPhone, spatial audio tracks the motion of your head as well as your device, compares the motion data, and then remaps the sound field so that it stays anchored to your device even as your head moves.
Today’s AirPods firmware upgrade also brings support for automatic device switching, a feature that is available to AirPods and AirPods Pro users alike. This functionality will allow your AirPods to switch between your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, and Apple Watch paired to the same iCloud account.
Note that both of these new features require iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, tvOS 14, or macOS 11 Big Sur. The AirPods firmware update is rolling out today, and you can check your version by pairing your AirPods to your iPhone or iPad, opening the Settings app, choosing Bluetooth, and looking for your AirPods connection.
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