At WWDC 2021, Apple revealed it will update tvOS and M1 Macs later this year to allow AirPods Pro and Max owners to take advantage of Spatial Audio, but didn’t provide a lot of details about how it plans to implement the feature on those systems. Now we have some more information.
Apple told Engadget the feature will work with stereo, 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos content. Whether you’re using a pair of AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, the software that powers the feature will widen the soundstage so that it seems like the entire room you’re in is being filled with sound. When you sit down to watch a movie or TV show, the included head tracking feature will lock in after it detects you’ve been looking in the same direction for a while. Once you get up to walk around, it will reactivate. Connecting your AirPods to an Apple TV is also easy in this context. When you’re near the device with your headphones, it will display a popup that will allow you to quickly connect, and you won’t need to dig into the settings menu.
Outside of tvOS, iOS 15 will include more robust Spatial Audio controls and share more detailed information through the volume slider. Some of the other new features coming to AirPods this fall include a “Conversation Boost” tool for the AirPods Pro Apple says will help those with “mild” hearing issues, and an “Announce Notification” that will read your priority notifications.