We were very impressed with the new Apple AirPods Pro 2, and that’s partly due to the Adaptive Transparency technology they offer. Now, it looks like the same feature could also be heading to the original Apple AirPods Pro.
as seen in reddit (opens in new tab) (through Apple Insider (opens in new tab)), the latest iOS 16.1 beta brings a software switch to Adaptive Transparency to the first generation AirPods Pro. Apple hasn’t said anything officially, and it’s just in testing for now, but it looks like the feature is on the way.
The default transparency mode on the AirPods Pro attempts to accurately simulate external sounds while the headphones are in the ear. With the adaptive option enabled, this still happens, but with very loud noises (85db and above) made to sound quieter.
Apple installed an updated H2 chip in the second-gen AirPods Pro, which does all the calculations necessary for Adaptive Transparency to work. It’s still unclear how the H1 chip in the original AirPods Pro will be managed.
It’s possible that Apple updated and simplified the relevant algorithms to suit the H1 chip, and it’s also possible that the feature doesn’t work as well on first-gen headphones compared to second-gen ones.
Based on user reports, it appears that Adaptive Transparency works correctly on the original AirPods Pro, but no one has done a detailed comparison with the 2022 version of the headphones yet. Note that you also need the AirPods Pro beta firmware installed, as well as iOS beta for the feature to appear.
Analysis: More value for older devices
It’s clear why tech companies don’t release new features for older hardware: the components inside may not be powerful enough to handle the improved functionality, and it also gives consumers less reason to upgrade to a new device.
However, we’d like to see more of what Apple (apparently) has done here. Where hardware allows, giving owners of older devices access to newer features would add a lot of extra value to products – and would also do a lot for a brand’s reputation.
In fairness to Apple, it’s one of the best out there when it comes to releasing new software for your existing gadgets. iOS 16 works on all iPhones since the 2017 iPhone X and iPhone 8, even if some of the features are not enabled on older devices.
Manufacturers want to promote their eco-friendly credentials, and this is another way to extend the life of products and slow down the refresh cycle – even if there isn’t as much profit made along the way.