AirPods are getting an upgrade with Adaptive Audio and more

Someone holding the AirPods Pro in their case.
(Image credit: Future)

Apple's WWDC 2023 event was an action-packed one, complete with plenty of software and hardware announcements. But with so much going on it was easy to miss some of the smaller improvements coming to Apple devices. And in the case of the AirPods, some of those improvements might actually be pretty big.

Alongside the big announcements like the Vision Pro headset and the 15-inch MacBook Air, Apple also confirmed that it is adding some new features to how AirPods handle switching between devices and more.

The new AirPods features won't be available until later this fall, but we do at least have some details on what we can expect once they arrive.

It all sounds good

Starting with device switching, Apple says that AirPods should be able to do it more quickly and reliably than before. Device switching is what happens when your AirPods automatically disconnect from one device, like an iPhone, and connect to something else, like a Mac. It's like magic when it works, and it seems it should work better than ever later this year.

Apple also confirmed that Adaptive Audio is coming to the AirPods, a feature that will listen to your environment and then adjust the noise cancelation and Transparency mode accordingly to create the best possible listening experience. Personalized Volume will do something similar, adjusting the volume based on the ambient sound.

Finally, Conversation Awareness will automatically turn the volume of your AirPods down when someone speaks to you, increasing it again after the conversation is finished.

All of these changes will ship alongside iOS 17 and the rest of Apple's fall software updates, so it's going to be a few months before they arrive, unfortunately. But at least we won't have to buy new AirPods to get them.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.