Apple AirPods get new Find My and spatial audio features — what you need to know

Refurbished AirPods Pro
(Image credit: Future)

Update: AirPods Pro 2 leak just tipped all the biggest upgrades.

During its WWDC 2021 keynote, Apple announced several new features for its AirPods, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max headphones. 

These upgrades are set to launch "this fall" and range from improvements to the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max’s spatial audio capabilities, which will finally let the two use spatial audio with Apple TV content, to a new “Announce Notifications” feature for the whole AirPods range.

Announce Notifications

Tying in with the new Focus settings in iOS 15, which was also announced during the event, Announce Notifications will be an optional feature that will read out important notifications over your AirPods. It’s similar to the existing Announce Messages feature, but can give you an audible reminder of events like deliveries, in addition to reading out your messages.

Find My app upgrades

Apple is also upgrading how the AirPods range works with the Find My app. If your AirPods are synced with the app, you’ll receive a separation alert if it think you’ve left the headphones behind somewhere. Previously, Find My was useful for locating a pair of AirPods you already knew was lost, but this could help prevent you losing it in the first place.

Spatial audio comes to Apple TV

The higher-end AirPods models are also getting some exclusive upgrades. Apple is finally adding spatial audio support, which works on both the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, to Apple TV; it was always strange that this 360-degree surround sound tech was never available on tvOS, so it’s good to finally see full compatibility. FaceTime is getting spatial audio calling in iOS 15, too.

AirPods Pro Conversation boost

The AirPods Pro is also getting an all-new “Conversation Boost” feature. Designed for users with “mild” hearing loss, Conversation Boost uses the earbuds’ integrated microphones to pick up and enhance speech. iOS 15 will, in conjunction, offer the ability to tweak how much ambient noise is picked up, should you want to isolate conversations further.

With the AirPods 3 heavily rumored to launch this year, it seems encouraging that Apple is nonetheless actively updating its existing AirPods line. Then again, the AirPods 3 is likely to be a cheaper pair of wireless earbuds than the AirPods Pro, so may not benefit from the same features itself. Either way, expect these new AirPods, AirPods Pro and AirPods Max features this fall.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.