Apple's big iPhone update just made the AirPods Pro even better with a new surround sound feature that feels like you're in a movie theater
Apple's AirPods Pro Crystal Cox / Business Insider
Apple's iOS 14 update brings a new feature called spatial audio to the AirPods Pro.
Spatial audio gives the AirPods Pro a surround sound effect, which makes the audio feel more open and immersive.
The AirPods Pro can track your head movements and allow the audio to adjust accordingly as you move.
It is available on iPhone 7 or later and on certain iPad models.
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Apple's iOS 14 update not only improved the iPhone, it also introduced some new features for AirPods.
AirPods Pro owners in particular can now use a new feature called spatial audio. As the name suggests, spatial audio creates an effect that makes it feel like the sound is coming from a surround sound speaker rather than your AirPods. The result is more immersive sound that automatically adjusts as you move your head or iPhone, almost making you feel like you're in a movie theater.
The addition shows Apple is investing in new features for AirPods beyond hardware-based upgrades, which hopefully can keep Apple's wireless earbuds feeling new and fresh even after years of use. It also shows how audio technology is becoming a more prominent part of Apple's core product line, as reportedly work is underway on a cheaper new HomePod speaker and its first pair of premium over-ear headphones.
I tried the AirPods Pro's spatial audio while watching "The Mandalorian" on Disney Plus and "See" on Apple TV Plus and found that it had a much more open sound. With the content playing on my phone, which was on my couch to my right, it sounded like the sound was coming from different directions, especially right in front of me.
If I hadn't known better, I would have checked that my AirPods were properly connected as the audio sounded so voluminous rather than like coming from earphones. Without the spatial audio switched on, the content sounded much more reserved and concentrated.
If you want to use spatial audio with your AirPods, make sure you have a pair of AirPods Pro and an iPhone 7 or later. The feature also works when using AirPods Pro with the 12.9-inch third-generation iPad Pro, 11-inch iPad Pro, third-generation iPad Air, sixth-generation iPad, and fifth-generation iPad mini . All of these devices must of course be running iOS 14 or the latest version of iPadOS.
You should also make sure that spatial audio is enabled. To do this, open the settings menu on your iPhone, tap on "Bluetooth" and look for your AirPods Pro in the list of devices. Tap the "i" button next to it and make sure the "Spatial Audio" switch is turned on. You can also control spatial audio by launching Control Center and pressing and holding the volume bar. Any content encoded in 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound or Dolby Atmos should work.
This is one of the few features Apple AirPods added in iOS 14, along with battery notifications that can notify you when your headphones need charging and automatic device switching.
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