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Apple iOS 17.1 landed today & there BIG changes coming for AirPods

What are the highlights to look out for in the latest OS and what is about to happen to Apple’s audio range?

Apple has plans for AirPods - my AirPods Max

Today finally saw the full release of the latest update to Apple’s mobile operating system. I installed it earlier today and although it is only a fairly minor change I thought it might be worth noting the new headline features.

And after I’ve gone through those, then I will catch you up on what plans Apple has for the AirPods range and how you are about to become worse off if you use any of Apple’s services.

iOS17.1 – what’s new?

If you are brave (or daft enough) to be part of the beta testing program, then you’ll already have had a chance to use these new features. For us ‘normal’ folks though today is the first chance we’ve had to check out the latest bells & whistles in iOS 17.1 that were first announced at WWDC back in June.

The main update has to do with AirDrop. At the summer developers conference, Apple said that they had developed a way for files to continue to be transferred via AirDrop via a cell connection if you happen to leave the Wi-Fi network that you started the transfer on. Both devices will need to be signed into their iCloud accounts. As I use AirDrop endless times a day I’ll take this update with open arms.

Apple is keen to play catch-up with Spotify and has made some changes to Apple Music that should help the algorithm find you better-tailored choices. Now by tapping the new star button, you can add favourite songs, artists, playlists or albums to your library which in the back end will help improve the recommendations that Apple Music offers you. You can also now make Playlist Covers with a new collection of cover art. This new feature set is also available for the 14.1 macOS Sonoma update which is also available today.

StandBy got a tiny tweak as well in this update that will give you the option to set the display to turn off either automatically, after 20 seconds or never when used in the smart display made.

The are minor updates to Dynamic Island that has now added the Flashlight indicator to it, and you can choose a specified album for Photo Shuffle to pick images from to create rotating wallpapers. Some of us in the UK can now see our bank balances in the Apple Wallet app rather than heading to the bank app.

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All change for AirPods

Apple is working busily in the background to refresh their AirPods lineup.

According to Mark Gurman Apple are keen to better differentiate between models in the lineup over the next year or so.

Currently, the lineup is starting to look a little confusing with AirPods 2nd & 3rd gen still available along with AirPods Pro 2nd gen and AirPods Max. The 3rd gen AirPods have not proved as popular as Apple would have wished and the plans now are that both the 2nd & 3rd gen models will be replaced by a single pair of ‘normal’ non-pro AirPods…that said, the plans don’t sound that clear to me.

Apple will release two pairs of 4th gen AirPods in 2024 that will be a new design and far closer resemble AirPods Pro with the stubbier, shorter stems. The higher priced of the two pairs will have noise cancellation and integrated speakers on the charging case for improved Find My support. How well noise cancelling will work though I’m not sure as neither pair will have silicone tips that help create a better fit.

At the top end, AirPods Max, which hasn’t been updated since their introduction in 2020, will get some new colours and will support lossless audio when paired and used with Apple Vision Pro – but for the time being that seems to be all the changes that we’ll be getting.

All new AirPods will of course have a USB-C charging port. The plan is to completely re-design AirPods Pro in 2025.

Price hikes on services

And ahead of next week’s fourth-quarter earnings report, Apple has also announced that several of its service packages will be going up as well – quite substantially in some cases.

Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, Apple One bundles and Apple News Plus are all getting jacked. Apple TV will jump $3 to $9.99 with a similar $3 increase for Apple News + which will now cost a hefty $12.99 as a stand-alone app.

Last year I consolidated all my Apple subscriptions into the Apple One bundle to save a few quid but that too is going up – the Premiere Bundle jumps up a whopping $5 to $37.95.

Apple is focusing heavily on its services as the recurring regular income has been one the areas to have grown most of the past few years.

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