Hands on with new AirPods features in iOS 16, including Personalized Spatial Audio

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With iOS 16, Apple makes AirPods even better. These are the notable new features coming to Apple’s popular earphones and headphones this fall.

Every time Apple releases a major software update, there are hundreds of changes and features to be found. As has been the case in the past, Apple is taking this opportunity to bring new features to its AirPods line.

There are two notable changes that we tested with the current developer beta. Settings improvements and personal Spatial Audio. Apple also released a beta firmware for AirPods to test these changes

AirPods settings

Before iOS 16, to get to the AirPods settings, you had to dig. You should go to Settings > Bluetooth > AirPods > and press I.

You could not access these settings if your AirPods were not connected and it was generally a subpar experience for the users. Apple has added new features to AirPods over the years, making the settings more crucial.

New AirPods settings

New AirPods settings

Starting with iOS 16, once you’ve connected your AirPods, a new panel will appear just below your Apple ID. It’s just a tap away to get to all the settings you need to perform the customization test, check the firmware, or set up personal Spatial Audio.

Personal spatial sound

Speaking of which, Personalized Spatial Audio is the next new feature. It uses your face and ear topography to map the 3D sound to you. It should increase the Spatial Audio effect while listening to music or videos.

Setting up Personalized Spatial Audio

Setting up Personalized Spatial Audio

When you connect your AirPods after installing iOS 16, you will see a new modal that explains how the personal sound works. If you reject the modal, you can configure it by going to AirPods settings.

Scan your ears and face for personal spatial sound

Scan your ears and face for personal spatial sound

To set it up, perform three scans of your face using the TrueDepth camera system on your iPhone. With AirPods out of your ears, you will look around in a circle, much like configuring Face ID.

You will then repeat the same process for your left ear, as well as your right ear, but instead of looking in a circle, you will move slightly back and forth. When you scan your ears, your iPhone will ring when it’s time to move your head the opposite way.

Playing spatial audio tracks in Apple Music

Playing spatial audio tracks in Apple Music

After testing the new Personalized Spatial Audio, we were impressed, but could not quite fathom how much better it was than before. There was no quick shift to hearing the standard version versus the personal version.

Anecdotally, it seems that the AirPods Pro had more benefit from this feature than the AirPods Max. The AirPods Max already sounded spectacular, and it did not do much more.

Coming soon

IOS 16 is currently in developer beta. A public beta is scheduled to be released in July before a full release this fall. keep up AppleInsider as we review more features for Apple’s upcoming software updates.


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