AirPods Pro firmware version 3A283 is currently rolling out to users with two new features: spatial sound and automatic device switching.
You can check the firmware version of AirPods by connecting them to an iPhone or iPad and going to the Bluetooth section of the Settings app. Press the blue info button next to the AirPods entry and scroll down to the version number at the bottom of the view. There is no known reliable way to force a firmware update, but my AirPods sat on a Qi charger with the case closed near the iPhone for what it’s worth.
First announced by Apple at WWDC, spatial sound creates the illusion of sound coming from the iPhone or iPad as you move your head. Apple describes the feature on the iOS 1
Spatial sound with dynamic head tracking brings the cinematic experience straight to the AirPods Pro.11 by using directional sound filters and subtly adjusting the frequencies each ear receives, spatial sound can place sounds virtually anywhere in the room, creating an immersive surround sound experience. Using the gyroscope and accelerometer in AirPods Pro and iPhone, spatial sound tracks the movement of your head as well as your device, compares the motion data, and then recreates the sound field so that it remains anchored to your device itself as your head. moves.
I tested the feature with my iPhone 11 Pro Max and 12.9 ”iPad Pro, and it worked with both, although Apple only mentions iPhone models on the preview page of iOS 14. In my tests, I played the latest episode of Ted Lasso, a TV + program that supports multi-channel audio. I also tried HBO’s Game of Thrones. It may require more testing, but the feature seems to support any multi-channel audio source, regardless of the video streaming provider.
While Ted Lasso was playing, I turned in my chair and got up and walked around my office. With spatial sound turned on, as you can do by long-pressing the volume controller in Control Center in iOS or iPadOS 14 beta, the sound source seemed to come directly from my iPad that sat on my desktop. Then I went over to look at the iPhone and moved it while walking around my office. All the while the sound seemed to come directly from the iPhone.
While testing spatial sound, I moved much more than I normally would when watching a show. Even with excessive movement, the effect felt incredibly real as if the sound was coming from the speakers on the device playing the video. The effect is so well done that I expect in daily use, like switching the iPhone from one hand to the other or turning your head for a moment, I forget that spatial sound is even engaged.
The update also allows AirPods Pro and second-generation AirPods to switch between devices automatically. When I switched from watching Ted Lasso on the iPad to the iPhone, which was less than a meter from the iPad, AirPods switched as soon as I opened the TV app. It’s a small touch, but it felt like magic, and I can tell it will make a big difference when I switch between devices during the day. Apple says the feature allows switching between iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Macs and Apple Watches.