Apple initially explored using GPS to control AirPods Pro's adaptive audio

Tim Hardwick

When Apple introduced the second generation AirPods Pro, Adaptive Transparency offered a new way to reduce loud environmental noise for a more comfortable everyday listening experience. Adaptive Audio is designed with this approach in mind by dynamically blending existing Transparency and Active Noise Canceling modes to deliver the best sound quality in the moment, tailoring noise management to suit the user's needs based on different environments and interactions.

So, Adaptive Audio aims to automatically reduce loud or distracting noises in your environment. , such as the sound of a leaf blower or an airplane flying overhead, while other noises, such as a sudden car horn, remain audible.

  • How to use all the new AirPods Pro features in iOS 17

In a new interview with TechCrunch, Apple Vice President of Sensing and Connectivity Ron Huang said that Apple initially considered using GPS location to inform ‌AirPods Pro‌ about the user's location and adapt the audio quality accordingly. However, in real tests this method was ineffective. From the interview:

“In the early stages of developing Adaptive Audio, we basically put you in ANC mode rather than transparency mode, depending on where you are,” says Huang. “You can imagine that the phone could prompt the AirPods and say, 'Hey, you're home,' and so on. This is the way to do it, but after all our knowledge we don't think this is the right way to do it, and we haven't done it. Of course, your home is not always quiet, and the streets are not always noisy. We decided that instead of relying on location cues from your phone, AirPods monitor your surroundings in real time and make smart decisions on your own.”

Huang also returned to the reason in the interview. via which USB-C ‌AirPods Pro‌ can support lossless audio with Vision Pro thanks to support for the updated H2 chip 5GHz wireless band (2nd generation ‌AirPods Pro‌ with Lightning port only supports 2.4GHz):

“Bluetooth typically operates at 2.4 gigahertz, and that airspace is very, very noisy,” Huang says. “Everyone is using 2.4. This is why routers, for example Wi-Fi routers, are usually dual-band, if not tri-band, because the 5GHz spectrum is much cleaner. To get really, really low audio latency and get to really high quality lossless audio, it's all about a very, very clean channel running in real time between the two devices. The combination of the 5 GHz frequency and the fact that they are very close allowed us to do this. We can essentially reverse engineer a completely new audio protocol at 5GHz for AirPods.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Huang touches on other features that iOS 17 brings to ‌AirPods Pro‌, including conversation tracking , personalized audio, and faster device switching. Updated ‌AirPods Pro‌ the second generation costs $249 in the USA. began arriving to customers late last week.

Related Review: AirPods ProTag: TechCrunch Buyer's Guide: AirPods Pro (Buy Now) Related Forum: AirPods [19 comments]

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