If all the rumours are to be believed, then AirPod Pro are likely to be getting their first update later this year…and there are a few improvements I’m hoping to find…
I already love them!
It’s an odd juxtaposition, coming from an audio background, I shouldn’t really like AirPod Pro anywhere near as much as I do. I should be all about the studio grade headphones from the likes of BeyerDynamic. And I do, whenever I am editing the Minus Sixteen podcast, or working on clients audio, you’ll always find wearing a pair of over-the-head, neutral, flat ‘cans’.
But, there is also a large percentage of time, that you’ll find me happily wearing my pair of AirPod Pro. I traded up to the Pro version, in March this year, having used my original pair of AirPod’s for around two years.
AirPod were, in typical Apple style, pretty revolutionary when first launched in September 2016. Due to their success, it was inevitable that a Pro version would not be far behind. And, so it was proven to be. The headline improvements over the standard pair were Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) and the Transparency Mode. Using the H1 chip, originally found in both second & third generation AirPods, Apple also made them suitable for both Spatial Audio and surround sound (with compatible iOS).
They’re gonna be busy
I wrote last week that the Apple event season is now, only a few weeks away. The date is more or less now set as Wednesday 7th September, for their first, autumn event.
They will be plenty busy this fall; iPhone 14, Apple Watch 8, the Apple silicon Mac Pro, M2 iPad Pro, M2 MacBook Pro’s, and Mac mini are all on the schedule. Moreover, there will also be the OS updates and possibly, a new HomePod…and, AirPod Pro II.
Oddly, of all that is due to come out this fall, it is the ‘smaller’ items that interest me the most.
I think I will swerve iPhone 14 as there does not seem much to tempt me. But, I think I want to dip in to the wearables market, and bag myself my first Apple Watch, when Apple Watch 8 is released. This year, I have also become a massive user, and vocal fan of, HomePod mini. I never owned the original HomePod, but the minis have won me over. If they do release a new HomePod, I will be snagging one for sure.
And, of course, the one other product that will tempt me, is if AirPod Pro gets their first update, since their 2019 release. As much of a fan as I am though, they are not flawless, and there are five areas I’d love to see them focus on, and improve.
Let’s look at my AirPod Pro improvements wish list, and see if any of my desires, mirror yours.
1. Sound & EQ
That is a big, bold, broad heading, I know, so let me refine it somewhat.
I am wearing my pair of AirPod Pro right now (if it is of any interest, I am listening to the ‘Closer To The Source’ album by Leroy Hutson on Apple Music). The sound overall is really, really good.
For the kind of environment they are asked to work in, the sound profile works fine.
Compared with my original AirPods, there are improvements all over. The sound signature is both better and different from my original pair.
The mids, where the vocals sit in the mix, are easier on the Pro’s. The higher end could do with a tad more ’sparkle’, to help the treble shimmer and shine a bit more for my liking. And of course, given the design, and size, the bassier, lower end, is always going to struggle.
For all that, though, I stand by my earlier comment, that I like the sound they give overall. If I am out walking, training, or even writing as I am now, I am not interested in the finer, acoustic nuances. They deliver a comfortable, balanced, thoughtful sound delivery.
But…if they could add in some basic, user adjustments, that would make the experience, that much better. I was thinking, may be in the settings, they could incorporate some EQ refinement. Even if it were some presets, but just ways we can tailor the sound to our preferences. I’d rather that, than the current, one-sound-fits-all, Adaptive EQ.
That would be my first wish.
Part, no, scrub that, the main reason I changed to AirPod Pro was for their ANC. When away from home, listening with the Active Noise Cancelling enabled, is a game-changer.
The tech behind ANC is mind-blowing. An outward-facing mic detects, external, unwanted sound. AirPod Pro will then counter it with anti-noise, long before you even hear it. The same process is carried out with an inward-facing mic. And this all happens 200 times per second!
The final touch that makes ANC so impressive, are the interchangeable ear-tips. You’ll get three pairs of silicon tips with AirPod Pro. There is even an ear-fit guide you’ll find in ‘Settings’ as well. Part of getting rid of any unwanted sound, is by having an airtight, perfect fit for your ear.
That is all well and good, but it comes at a cost – which is fit! Pretty much, with my original AirPods, from the moment I had popped them in, they never needed to be touched again.
Now, I have never had my AirPod Pro fall out, but they constantly feel as if they are about to fall out, which causes some anxiety. I fully appreciate that the fit cannot be compromised, but if there were a way to make them seal, and at the same time, fit more securely, that would be a win. Would a different material for the tips, perhaps, be the answer?
3. Battery info
If you pick up your locked iPhone and flip open the AirPod case, you’ll get a cool, 3D image of your AirPod telling you both case and left and right earphone battery charge.
Subsequently, though, you’ll get nothing about the available charge left on your AirPods.
Presently, on Apple Street, battery percentage is hot news, as with iOS 16, you’ll once again have the ability to display your phone’s battery percentage in the menu bar. So, rather than having to go to Control Centre to look, as you do currently, I was wondering if something could be baked in to the lock-screen or menu bar instead?
After all, these in-ear headphones, are generally going to be used when on the move, so the more user convenience, the better.
Apple are, occasionally, too clever for their own good. The auto-connect function for AirPod is one, such, shining example.
The idea we were sold, was that AirPod would instinctively look for live audio from any devices, around you, signed in to your Apple ID. Cool. Sounds fantastic, but in reality, it is a proper pain in the butt!
My current situation is a perfect example of it. I am writing this blog on my M2 MacBook Air. I am listening to my own albums via the Apple Music app. But, the moment I type on my MacBook Pro to search for some reference points, or check on my iPhone, the audio starts to flake out. It is trying to find the latest product I have touched, rather than looking for the device with live audio.
Now, yes, you can try to disable this yourself, but I have found it to have limited success. If you want to try, here is what you need to do.
- Make sure your AirPods or AirPods Pro are connected to your iPhone.
- Launch the Settings app.
- Tap Bluetooth.
- Tap the encircled info (i) button next to your pair of AirPods in the list.
- Tap Connect to This iPhone.
- Select When Last Connected to This iPhone, and make sure the tick mark is blue.
In theory, with the ‘Automatically’ option shown ticked, it should make your AirPods search for active playback on a device and connect to it.
I hope you have more luck than me with that, though! Time to simplify this, I reckon, or search for a better option.
5. USB-C Charging
This is one change, I think, we are almost certainly going to see coming to this latest iteration of AirPod Pro, although, not entirely by Apple’s choice.
Internationally, there is a clamour for a standardised charging system for small, hand-held, electronic devices. The EU has already passed the law, which is only awaiting ratification. It will be passed as law, within the next twelve months. Brazil, India, and the US are all set to follow suit, within a similar time frame.
The net has long been closing for Apple and their proprietary option for charging – the lightning cable. Next year’s iPhone 15 is expected to be the first iPhone with USB-C charging. Virtually all new products that Apple now release will be starting to step inline with these new, global, charging law changes.
Although you can charge wirelessly via the MagSafe enabled case, I don’t have a MagSafe charger at my work space. So, I’ll be looking forward to having one less charging cable knocking about on my desk in the future, that’s for sure. The standardisation of USB-C charging is overdue.
The battery life on AirPod Pro is great, but when they do need some juice, having a USB-C connector on the case, will be yet another step toward making these earphones, perfect.
So, there you go, my five wishes for what I’d love to see improved on AirPod Pro II. Assuming we do see them released this year, what do you think of my list? Are there any improvements or tweaks I have overlooked? Let me know.
Meanwhile, even as they stand, they are still one of the products I use every day. Easy, good sounding, and convenient. They are already fantastic, and at a good price point. A few little changes though…and just imagine!
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