Apple AirPods just got a bunch of cool features -- here's what we know

Apple AirPods
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple AirPods have just gotten a whole lot more badass, which is almost unbelievable, since they were pretty awesome to start. During WWDC 2021, Apple announced a slew of new features coming to the AirPod family designed to deliver a better listening experience, and calls. It'll even be easier to find your AirPods when you inevitably misplace them. 

Conversation Boost

The first feature announced for the AirPods line during WWDC is Conversation Boost. Using AI algorithms, this new feature is designed to make engaging in conversation a much more enjoyable experience for everyone participating. Not only will voice calls sound better, you'll also have the ability to adjust the amount of ambient noise allowed into the soundstage. This is big for those of us working in a noisy work environment. 

Announce Notifications

Siri could already read messages back to you with the Announce Messages. Apple's taking things a step further with the new Announce Notifications. The new feature means that Siri can now read some of your more important notifications. It can also do some more mundane tasks like read your shopping list when you enter the grocery store, provided you have your location enabled.

Announce Notifications lets you choose which app notifications Siri will read.  And if you're using the focus feature, your notification preferences are already taken into account.

Find My AirPods

It's happened to the best of us. You've left behind your precious earbuds somewhere, or worse, one bud has gone missing. Apple's Find My AirPods already did a solid job of tracking down your buds, even making them make noise until you locate them. But Apple's tweaked the Find My feature even more. In iOS 15, the feature will allow the earbuds to send out a Bluetooth beacon that will be detected by other iDevices and MacBooks via the massive Find My network.

From there, the AirPods will broadcast their location or, if they're nearby, you can trigger them to play a sound so you can start playing digital Marco Polo. The app will also utilize your proximity view to let you know if you're getting hotter or colder in the quest for your buds. Lastly, the app will ping you with a separation alert when you've left your AirPods behind so you won't have to do too much backtracking.  

Spatial audio

The AirPods Pro  and AirPods Max recently got a big sound upgrade with spatial audio and dynamic head tracking. The technology creates the illusion of a three-dimensional soundstage based on your head's position for a more immersive listening experience. It's something that you have to hear to believe. 

This coming fall, Apple is bringing spatial audio to TV OS. So now you can have the full surround experience in your living room on the biggest screen in your house. And thanks to dynamic head tracking, the spatial audio affect will work as you move through the room.  Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking is also coming to Mac OS and the M1-powered MacBooks. 

But the spatial audio goodness doesn't stop there. It's also coming to Apple Music, but with the added oomph of Dolby Atmos. You can check out the new tech, starting today on selected albums from several popular artists including Ariana Grande, J Balvin and The Weeknd to name a few. 

AirPods 3

Apple had a lot of software news, but nothing was said about the highly anticipated AirPods 3 or AirPods Pro 2. We'll keep our eyes peeled for the latest rumors and leaks, so stayed tuned for any updates. 

Sherri L. Smith
Editor in Chief

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.