At WWDC 2021 Apple announced a slew of features that will be hitting its range of AirPod headphones this year and we also the rollout of the previously announced lossless audio and Spatial Audio streaming.
While we wouldn’t describe the new updates as particularly ground-breaking, they would appear to help round out the feature-set and increase the accessibility of AirPods headphones. But one announcement looks set to excite Apple Music subscribers more than the others.
That date is June 7, 2021 – so by the time you read this, spatial audio with Dolby Atmos should be available, with albums from artists such as Ariana Grande and Kacey Musgraves included in the format. Apple has also made a selection of playlists highlighting the tech.
How to get Spatial Audio working
As long as you’re on iOS 14.6, Spatial Audio through Dolby Atmos should appear in the music settings portion of the Settings app. If it doesn’t, a quick restart sorted it out for us.
To find out which songs support Dolby Atmos, head into Apple Music and look for the Dolby Atmos labels (pictured below).
In other news, Apple announced more features for its AirPods headphones, which already rank among the best true wireless earbuds we’ve tested. First up was Conversation Boost. This feature is aimed at those with mild hearing challenges, and uses computational audio and beamforming microphones to focus the AirPods Pro on the person talking in front of you, making it easier to hear what’s being said. You can even tweak the amount of ambient noise the headphone filters in, to make conversations clearer.
Another feature highlighted was ‘Announce Notifications’. This comes into effect when you can’t find (or simply can’t be bothered to reach) your iPhone. This iOS 15 feature gives Siri the ability to automatically return notifications to you, especially time sensitive notifications, such as when your takeaway has been delivered.
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Other examples mentioned Siri reading out your shopping list or setting a reminder for a location. You can choose which apps to enable it for, and there’s a Do Not Disturb feature if you don’t want to be interrupted.
For the AirPods Pro and Max headphones, the ‘Find My’ feature has been improved. If you can’t find them, you can use the app to make the headphones send out a secure Bluetooth beacon that is relayed to the Apple network and then to the app to promote its location. Or you can have the headphones play a sound, and ‘Proximity View’ lets you know when you’re close. You can also set a separation alert to let you know if you’ve left the headphones behind somewhere.
One of our criticisms of Apple’s strategy with their spatial audio feature was that it wasn’t supported by Apple TV 4K. It seemed a prime product to support it, and many months after the feature arrived on AirPods headphones, Apple has announced that spatial audio will come to tvOS later in the year (probably around September). Spatial audio is also due to arrive on Mac OS.