Apple today took to the virtual stage to announce new services and products. In the products department, the first in line is the third generation of its truly wireless earbuds, the AirPods. This has been a long-awaited product and brings modest improvements for the aging AirPods lineup.
Starting with the design, the company has reduced the length of the stem, making it a less awkward design. The firm has also improved the design of the ear cups to help them fit better. The shorter stem now includes force sensors – akin to what is present on the AirPods Pro, adding more functionality.
In terms of features, the firm has added new custom drivers and a high dynamic range amplifier for improved sound quality. An inner microphone now helps the device tweak the audio thanks to a new feature called Adaptive EQ from the AirPods Max and AirPods Pro – bringing “computational audio” that tunes the equalizer depending on the media. Unsurprisingly, the AirPods brings Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking and Dolby Atmos for what the firm calls “a three-dimensional theater-like experience”.
Other features include support for the AAC-ELD codec, a mesh for the microphones to improve resistance to wind noise, a skin-detect sensor for automatically pausing audio when the earbuds are removed from the ear, beamforming microphones, IPX4 water resistance rating, and more.
The company is also touting improved battery life from the earbuds, saying that a 5-minute charge can top up the buds for an hour of listening and a combined usage of 30 hours using the carrying case. The case itself comes with wireless charging and MagSafe support, which is a nifty addition. The device also brings a one-touch setup for seamlessly pairing with other devices and supports Audio Sharing for streaming between devices. Announce Notifications is another feature that lets Siri read out notifications and alerts for pre-set apps The new AirPods are also part of the Find My network.
The third-generation AirPods cost $179 and are available for order starting today. Availability is set for next week. The wireless audio-device lineup now starts with the second-generation AirPods for $129.