Apple AirPods (2021): everything you need to know

There’s no denying the popularity of Apple’s AirPods, but the regular model has been overdue for a refresh. Announced in spring 2019, the second generation of the company’s true wireless earbuds brought improvements like faster pairing, hands-free Siri and wireless charging. While some companies are cranking out multiple models a year, Apple hasn’t needed to do that, hence the two-year gap between new models. Today, the company finally debuted the third-iteration AirPods with an updated design, Spatial Audio, Adaptive EQ and one-touch setup. 

Apple says the newest AirPods are safe for workouts thanks to IPX4 sweat and water resistance. Hands-free Siri is back, while a skin sensor detects when you’re wearing the earbuds, automatically pausing when one is removed. As for battery life, you can expect up to six hours of listening and 30 hours of total usage with the charging case. Speaking of the case, it supports MagSafe charging. Additionally, a new one-touch setup quickly pairs the buds with Apple products. 

Gallery: Apple AirPods (2021) | 5 Photos

With the third-gen AirPods, Apple is bringing Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking to its regular model. Head tracking also works with Group FaceTime calls so that voices sound like they’re coming from the direction they’re positioned on screen. Apple says this makes for a more immersive setup, so it sounds more like you’re in the same room with other attendees. The company claims that support for the AAC-ELD codec enables improved speech quality and says its microphones are covered with “acoustic mesh” to help reduce wind noise.

Apple also equipped its new AirPods with Adaptive EQ. This technology tunes the audio in real time according to inward-facing mics that monitor sound. Computational audio adjusts low and mid-range frequencies as any variances occur. This works like Adaptive EQ on AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, so Apple is extending much of the tech-heavy features from its pricier models to the base AirPods. 

The third-generation AirPods are up for pre-order today for $179 and will begin shipping on October 26th.

Follow all of the news from Apple’s Mac event right here.

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