AirPods Pro 2 get 3 big upgrades courtesy of iOS 18 — here's what's coming

Apple AirPods Pro 2 head in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The AirPods Pro 2 are set to receive some nice free upgrades when iOS 18 drops onto compatible iPhones later this year. Apple detailed the upcoming features during the WWDC keynote in Cupertino this week, and has also released new beta firmware for both the Lightning and USB-C versions of the headphones.

However, owners of other models may be left wanting. While the AirPods 3 and AirPods Max will be able to take advantage of some of the new features, it's the premium AirPods Pro 2 that get the lion's share of the updates.

And while none of these features are exactly going to rock your world, they're certainly nice-to-have additions that'll keep the AirPods Pro 2 on our list of the best headphones you can buy in 2024.

1. Siri Interactions

WWDC 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

Following in the same vein as the double tap gesture on the Apple Watch, you'll soon be able to accept or decline calls just by moving your head. When a call comes in and you're wearing the AirPods Pro 2, Siri will ask if you'd like to accept the call. You can do so by nodding your head or, if you'd rather ignore it, shaking your head.

This adds a more discreet way of declining a call if you'd rather not answer Siri directly.

Apple calls this feature "Siri Interactions" and indicates that as well as answering or neglecting calls, users will be able to "interact with messages, manage notifications, and so much more — all without speaking". Which is intriguing although, since it relies on the H2 chip, this is a feature exclusive to the AirPods Pro 2.


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2. Voice Isolation

WWDC 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple will give the active noise cancellation in the AirPods Pro 2 a boost come the fall with Voice Isolation. In essence, this uses the H2 chip in the AirPods Pro 2 to isolate and enhance voice quality "while removing significant background noise — like wind around the caller — for the listener."

The WWDC demo featured a woman taking a call on her AirPods while the surrounding construction and traffic noise was reduced to nothing. How this works in practice remains to be seen, but it'll take a lot to unseat the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones from the top of our best noise-cancelling headphones guide.

3. Personalized Spatial Audio for games

WWDC 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

One of the audio features coming to multiple AirPod models is an improvement to the Personalized Spatial Audio, with a bit of a focus on gaming. Apple is opening up the tech to developers to dial up the immersion in their games, meaning the AirPods Pro 2, original AirPods Pro, AirPods 3 and AirPods Max will all be capable of head-tracking 3D sound while gaming.

It's no coincidence that Apple used its WWDC keynote to highlight a whole roster of games coming to macOS Sequoia, including Assassin's Creed Shadows and Death Stranding.

In addition, Apple is minimizing latency for gaming, claiming that AirPods Pro users will get "improved voice quality, including 16-bit, 48kHz audio, when chatting with teammates and other players."

No hardware updates...yet

AirPods Max worn on head

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

WWDC was devoid of any hardware news as Apple understandably chose to focus on software and artificial intelligence. Which means we likely have to wait until September for a glimpse of new AirPod models coming our way.

The four-year-old AirPods Max look the most in line for an update, with Apple widely tipped to adopt USB-C as well as improve the ANC and possibly add the H2 chip to compete with the likes of the impressive Sonos Ace.

The third-gen AirPods arrived in 2021 while the AirPods Pro 2 followed a year later in 2022. While the AirPods Pro 2 may be left alone this year, it would seem possible Apple could also introduce the AirPods 4 at the likely iPhone 16 event in September. Which will coincide with the time the above features become available for most people as iOS 18 gets its public release.

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Jeff Parsons
UK Editor In Chief

Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.

A tech journalist for over a decade, he’s travelled the world testing any gadget he can get his hands on. Jeff has a keen interest in fitness and wearables as well as the latest tablets and laptops. A lapsed gamer, he fondly remembers the days when problems were solved by taking out the cartridge and blowing away the dust.