Every year when September comes around, Apple fans worldwide unite in anticipation of what the iconic tech brand will unveil. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the release of the iPhone 13 went on like clockwork, with record pre-booking in newly penetrated markets such as India.
However, it isn’t just the release of new devices that has Apple users all riled up since a new iPhone launch also means the next iteration of iOS and iPadOS. We’ve already discussed everything there to love about iPadOS 15, so do take a look at that post as well.
One such anticipated feature of the iOS15 / iPadOS 15 is the firmware update for Apple AirPods Pro, resulting in a brand-new feature. First announced back in June, the firmware update for AirPods Pro brings the “Conversation Boost” feature, which is designed to be an enhancement feature for people who are hard of hearing.
The release of firmware version 4A400 marks the inclusion of Conversation Boost, which hopes to give people with mild hearing disabilities a better way to communicate and connect. It is being rolled out as a bundled feature for AirPods Pro users with the same update, making it even easier to find your AirPods if you ever lose them.
How does Conversation Boost work?
By the basic design of the AirPods Pro, it supports active noise cancellation, along with a nifty Transparency Mode that lets you stay aware of your surroundings even while wearing the earbuds. Apple has further polished this feature in allowing people with hearing disabilities to make the most out of the Transparency Mode.
Offered as a “Custom Transparency Mode”, the Conversation Boost accessibility feature isolates the background noise and other voices with the beam-forming microphones. Since hearing disabilities can vary widely, you can easily access sliders to modify the transparency, amplification, and tone of the sounds you hear.
How to enable Conversation Boost on AirPods Pro?
Before you go on your merry way to enabling the Conversation Boost feature on your AirPods Pro, you need to make sure it is available for you. The feature is a part of the 4A400 firmware update, so you need to install it first. There isn’t a way to update the firmware of your AirPods Pro manually, so you will have to wait it out and see when the update reaches you.
However, you can make your way into the settings and find out what firmware version the AirPods Pro is on:
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad to which the AirPods Pro is paired.
- Navigate to General – About and tap on the AirPods Pro paired with your device.
- Scroll down to find the Firmware Version of the earbuds to confirm if it is the latest.
Once you have confirmed that the latest firmware version for your AirPods is installed, go ahead and enable the feature.
- Head back to the Settings app and open the Accessibility menu.
- Scroll down to find Hearing, and then navigate to the Audio / Visual menu.
- Enable Headphone Accommodations along with Transparency Mode option.
- Finally, please scroll down to find the newly-added Conversation Boost and enable it.
Note: You will only be able to see the option when the AirPods Pro is actively paired with the iPhone or iPad.
How to use Conversation Boost
Apple has buried this feature deep into the Accessibility menu, and you probably won’t need to access it again and again once you’ve finetuned it. However, in the beginning, when you need to open Conversation Boost over and over again to balance the Transparency Mode to your personal liking, it would be ideal to have the feature available right away from the Control Center. Here’s how you can start off by adding Conversation Boost to the Control Center window:
- Head to the Settings app.
- Open the Control Center menu.
- Press the + button right next to Hearing to add it.
Once you have Conversation Boost added to the Control Center, here’s how you can start using it:
- Connect your AirPods Pro to the iPhone or iPad.
- Open the Control Center by swiping down from the top-right corner of the screen.
- Press and hold the Volume Slider to open the settings for AirPods Pro.
- You should be able to see the Conversation Boost option enabled.
- Here’s you can adjust the Amplification, Balance, and Tone of the audio based on your hearing profile.
- To further improve the hearing audio quality, you can move around the Ambient Noise Reduction slider.
To give you more detail on these settings:
Amplification – Amplifies the sound picked by the microphone on your AirPods Pro. This is usually the first set to finetune for older people or those who are hard of hearing.
Transparency Balance – Depending on your hearing profile, you can set it to left (L), or set it to the right (R) or, just leave it in the center for a neutral audio profile.
Tone – This allows you to set the overall sound feeling between Darker and Brighter profiles.
Ambient Noise Reduction – Control the intensity of noise cancelation that the AirPods Pro allows.
Apple has highlighted that Conversation Boost isn’t designed just for people who are a bit hard of hearing, but for general users too. If you are one of those people who wants to listen clearly to the person in front of them, without having to take the AirPods Pro out of your ear every time, Conversation Boost could be your new favorite thing.
Can I enable Conversation Boost on the original AirPods?
No, you can’t use the Conversation Boost on the AirPods since it is an exclusive feature of the AirPods Pro. The feature uses the beam-forming microphones on the AirPods Pro to isolate voices, and since this hardware is not available on the original AirPods, there is no way to enable it.
How do I update the AirPods Pro firmware to the latest one?
Since AirPods and AirPods Pro firmware is updated OTA (over the air), you don’t have a way to manually update it. The automatic update happens through the device you connect the AirPods to, so make sure that the iPhone or iPad has an active internet connection to receive the firmware update.
What’s the difference between Conversation Boost and Live Listen?
Conversation Boost allows you to use the microphones on the AirPods Pro to isolate and direct the voice of the person you are listening to. However, Live Listen lets you enable the microphone of the iPhone or iPad while the AirPods are connected, which then helps you to listen in on a conversation even in a noisy environment.
Apple has put in plenty of thought process into creating the Conversation Boost feature for the AirPods Pro, and it isn’t just for those who are weak of hearing. Although Apple has not explicitly mentioned anything about it, the added workload on the microphones of the AirPods Pro would generally mean it draws more power too. Hence, it would directly affect the amount of playback time you get out of each entire charge cycle.