Hands on with new AirPods features in iOS 16, including Personalized Spatial Audio

Posted:
in iOS
With iOS 16, Apple is making AirPods even better. These are the notable new features coming to Apple's popular earbuds and headphones in the fall.

AirPods 3
AirPods 3 on our desk


Every time Apple releases a major software update there are hundreds of changes and features to be found. As has been the case in the past, Apple is taking this opportunity to bring new features to its AirPods line.

There are two notable changes that we tested out with the current developer beta. Improvements to the settings and personalized Spatial Audio. Apple also released a beta firmware for AirPods to test out these changes




Settings for AirPods

Prior to iOS 16, to get to the settings for AirPods, you had to dig. You'd have to go to Settings > Bluetooth > AirPods > and tap the i.

You couldn't access those settings if your AirPods weren't connected and it was overall a subpar experience for users. Apple has added new features to AirPods over the years making the settings more crucial.

New AirPods settings
New AirPods settings


As of iOS 16, when you have your AirPods connected, a new panel will appear just below your Apple ID. It's just a tap away to get to all the settings you need for doing the fit test, checking firmware, or setting up personalized Spatial Audio.

Personalized Spatial Audio

Speaking of which, Personalized Spatial Audio is the next new feature. It uses your face and ear topography to map the 3D audio to you. It should increase the Spatial Audio effect as you listen to music or videos.

Setting up Personalized Spatial Audio
Setting up Personalized Spatial Audio


When you connect your AirPods after installing iOS 16, you'll see a new modal appear that explains how the personalized audio works. If you dismiss the modal, you can set it up by going into the AirPods' settings.

Scan your ears and face for Personalized Spatial Audio
Scan your ears and face for Personalized Spatial Audio


To set it up, you'll need to perform three scans of your face using the TrueDepth camera system on your iPhone. With the AirPods out of your ears, you'll look around in a circle, similar to setting up Face ID.

You'll then repeat the same process for your left ear, as well as your right ear, but instead of looking in a circle, you'll move slightly back and forth. As you scan your ears, your iPhone will ding when it's time to move your head in the opposite way.

Playing Spatial Audio tracks in Apple Music
Playing Spatial Audio tracks in Apple Music


After we tested the new Personalized Spatial Audio, we were impressed, but couldn't fully discern how much better it was than before. There was no quick toggle to hear the standard version versus the personalized version.

Anecdotally, it seems that AirPods Pro benefitted more from this feature than AirPods Max. AirPods Max already sounded spectacular and this didn't up it much more.

Coming soon

At the moment, iOS 16 is currently in developer beta. A public beta is scheduled to be released in July before a full release this fall. Stay tuned to AppleInsider as we walk through more features for Apple's upcoming software updates.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    Can you prompt firmware updates in these new settings?
  • Reply 2 of 7
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,191member
    Andrew said:
    After we tested the new Personalized Spatial Audio, we were impressed, but couldn't fully discern how much better it was than before. There was no quick toggle to hear the standard version versus the personalized version.

    So is there now a quick way to toggle with the new panel? That would be great since s-a doesn't sound much different to me other than lacking in bass. I'd like to be able to quickly A/B the two so I can try to hear the difference.

    Ok watching the video I see there's no toggle of any kind to do what I want.


    Can you prompt firmware updates in these new settings?

    Good question. IIRC I was able to prompt an update to a couple of pairs of iPods by connecting them via Lightning to a Mac. But that was with a final version of some OS and not a beta.

    edited June 22
  • Reply 3 of 7
    I wish that Apple would spend some time to add features for Spatial Audio for home audio. Even connecting it to home audio is still a mystery as nobody can confirm if AirPlay 2 supports SA. I mean there’s a whole world with folks who have 5.1 or even 7.1 home cinema systems who would all benefit greatly if they could hook up their iPhone/iPad/Mac to enjoy SA at home. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 7
    So you were impressed even though you couldn’t detect any changes?
    Japheyappleinsideruser
  • Reply 5 of 7
    tpurdytpurdy Posts: 30member
    Are we training some head / ear tracking ML model for apple glass? Whatever it's for I'm sure they're building much more on top of this tech and this is just the first, more simple use case that made sense... :) 
    Vermelho
  • Reply 6 of 7
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,407member
    I like the new settings feature here, but I wish they had added the ones from Accessibility as well. As it is now, many people aren’t even aware they exist. Why is it so hard to just consolidate everything? 
  • Reply 7 of 7
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,304member
    JohnDinEU said:
    I wish that Apple would spend some time to add features for Spatial Audio for home audio. Even connecting it to home audio is still a mystery as nobody can confirm if AirPlay 2 supports SA. I mean there’s a whole world with folks who have 5.1 or even 7.1 home cinema systems who would all benefit greatly if they could hook up their iPhone/iPad/Mac to enjoy SA at home. 
    You need an Appletv 4k. From what I have read airplay 2 only supports stereo up to cd quality on non apple equipped devices. If you airplay to an Appletv that is connected via HDMI to your home system SA and SA w/Atmos and spatialize audio will work. Or skip the airplay to audio device route and play everything directly from the ATV 4k.
Sign In or Register to comment.