3rd-gen Apple AirPods offer adaptive audio and 6-hour battery life
Regardless of whether you think cordless earbuds are less cumbersome or just easier to lose, AirPods certainly stirred things up when they first debuted. The just-announced third generation offers longer battery life, and technology that adapts the sound to each user's ears.
Previously seen in Apple's AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, a system known as Adaptive EQ is also standard equipment on the 3rd-gen AirPods. It utilizes an inward-facing microphone that monitors sound within the wearer's ear canal, automatically tuning the high and low frequencies to compensate for whatever may be lost due to variations in fit between individual users.
They also feature a skin-detecting sensor that discerns if they're in the user's ears, or are someplace else such as in a pocket or on a tabletop – if they're not in the ears, then music playback is automatically paused. The new AirPods are additionally IPX4 sweat- and water-resistant, meaning they can stand up to being splashed.
A custom driver and a high-dynamic-range amplifier are claimed to produce "powerful bass with crisp, clean high frequencies," while an acoustic mesh on the beam-forming microphone reportedly minimizes wind noise and other distracting background noise when placing or receiving phone calls.
When viewing multimedia content, Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos technology are combined to create what's described as "a three-dimensional cinema-like experience." This works in unison with Apple's dynamic head-tracking tech, which compensates for changes in the orientation of the user's head – if it initially sounded like the audio was hitting both ears equally, for instance, the user would subsequently hear the audio more in their right ear if they turned their head to the left.
The stem is shorter than ever before on the 3rd-gen AirPods, but still features the same force sensor as the AirPods Pro, for finger-squeeze-sensitive control. And yes, they offer an hour more battery life than their predecessors, bringing the total runtime per charge up to a claimed six hours.
The new AirPods can be ordered from the Apple website as of this Monday, and will be in stores as of Oct. 26th – they're priced at US$179 a pair. If you want to save a few bucks, the 2nd-gen version is still also available, at a reduced price of $129.