Apple could upgrade the original AirPods Pro with a major new feature

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We’re very impressed with the new Apple AirPods Pro 2, partly because of the Adaptive Transparency technology they offer. Now it looks like the same feature could be coming to the original Apple AirPods Pro as well.

As spotted on Reddit (opens in new tab) (via AppleInsider (opens in new tab)), the latest iOS 16.1 beta brings a software switch for Adaptive Transparency for the first-generation AirPods Pro. Apple hasn’t said anything officially, and it’s only in testing for now, but it looks like the feature is on the way.

The default transparency mode on the AirPods Pro attempts to accurately simulate outside sounds while the earbuds are in your ear. With the adaptive option enabled, that still happens, but with very loud noises (85db and above) made to sound quieter.

Older hardware

Apple has put an improved H2 chip in the second-generation AirPods Pro, which makes all the necessary calculations needed for Adaptive Transparency to work. It is not yet clear how the H1 chip in the original AirPods Pro will survive.

It’s possible that Apple has updated and streamlined the relevant algorithms to match the H1 chip, and it’s also possible that the feature may not work as well on the first-generation earbuds as compared to the second-generation earbuds.

Based on user reports, Adaptive Transparency seems to work well on the original AirPods Pro, but so far no one has made a detailed comparison with the 2022 version of the earbuds. Note that you also need the beta firmware for the AirPods Pro installed, as well as the iOS beta for the feature to appear.

Analytics: More value for older devices

It’s obvious why tech companies aren’t rushing new features for older hardware: the internal components may not be powerful enough to handle the enhanced functionality, and it also gives consumers fewer reasons to upgrade to a new device.

However, we’d love to see more of what Apple has done here (apparently). Where the hardware allows it, giving owners of older devices access to newer features would add a lot of extra value to products – and it would also do a lot for a brand’s reputation.

To be fair to Apple, it is one of the best out there when it comes to releasing new software for its existing gadgets. iOS 16 works on any iPhone all the way back to the iPhone X and iPhone 8 from 2017, even if some features aren’t enabled on older devices.

Manufacturers are eager to promote their eco-friendly credentials, and this is another way to extend product life and slow down the upgrade cycle, even if not as much of a profit is made.

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