iOS 17 AirPods Features: Adaptive Audio, Personalized Volume, Conversation Awareness and More

iOS 17 doesn't just add new features to the iPhone - it also brings new functionality to the AirPods. Most of what's new is for the AirPods Pro 2, but there are a few additions that are for all AirPods.

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Adaptive Audio

Adaptive Audio, or Adaptive Noise Control, is an ‌AirPods Pro‌ 2 feature that combines Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency into one all-in-one mode that's designed to adjust the volume of what's playing based on what's around you and your interactions throughout the day.

Noise control shifts to drown out environmental sounds that you don't want to hear like the noise of an airplane, while making sure that you don't miss anything you might want to hear like someone speaking.

With ‌AirPods Pro‌ 2 that have updated firmware, activating Adaptive Audio can be done by connecting the AirPods, opening Control Center, long pressing on the volume, and selecting the "Adaptive" option that joins Transparency and Noise Cancellation.

Conversation Awareness

Conversation Awareness is part of Adaptive Audio. It is able to detect when someone is speaking, lowering the volume of the media and cutting down on background noise. This feature also enhances the voices in front of you so you can hear what's going on.

Personalized Volume

Also part of Adaptive Audio, Personalized Volume adjusts the sound of what's playing based on personal preferences and the sounds around you. The ‌iPhone‌ is able to learn more about the volume that you prefer over time, tweaking as necessary to match your desired sound level.

Mute and Unmute

If you press the stem of the ‌AirPods Pro‌ or third-generation AirPods, you can mute and unmute yourself while you're on a call. This also works on AirPods Max if you press the Digital Crown.

Automatic Device Switching

The ‌AirPods Pro‌ 2 can automatically switch between Apple devices much quicker in ‌iOS 17‌.

Dark Mode

In a small but notable change, when you connect AirPods to an ‌iPhone‌ with Dark Mode enabled, the connection popup will also be in ‌Dark Mode‌.

Usage Notes

Note that a firmware update is required to use these features, and in the case of Adaptive Audio, it is only available for the ‌AirPods Pro‌ 2. The new firmware that enables this functionality was released in September 2023.

Read More

More information on the new features in the ‌iOS 17‌ update can be found in our iOS 17 roundup.

Related Roundup: AirPods Pro
Buyer's Guide: AirPods Pro (Neutral)
Related Forum: AirPods

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Top Rated Comments

klasma Avatar
11 months ago

The only new feature I want is a USB-C case for them.
That probably won’t be in iOS 17.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
t0rqx Avatar
11 months ago

just curious, if almost everybody charge wireless, why people claim for a USB-C? actually why even those have cable connector, why not remove any port? (serious question).
Unlike what people here tell you. Wireless charging has a lot of power losses, heats up the battery which is bad and is slower than cable. This is probably the gen who think wireless is magic but truth is it still is inferior to wired. Especially with devices that require data transfers.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ignatius345 Avatar
11 months ago
The feature I wish for absolutely the most is sidetone. (Better description here than I can write:

Sidetone is a small amount of your own voice that's piped into your ear speaker as you speak. This sound confirms that your microphone is operating properly, and allows you to adjust your speaking volume to a proper level (not too loud, and not too quiet).
You get sidetone when you talk on your iPhone by itself using the onboard speaker and mic. On AirPods Pro and Max it would enable users to keep ANC on without it sounding like you've got a pillow over your ears.

edit 9/21: Adaptive Audio has sidetone, so I got my wish. It's a great mode for doing phone calls now because it kills at least some of the background noise as necessary, but also pipes in your own voice.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SirAnthonyHopkins Avatar
11 months ago
The only new feature I want is a USB-C case for them.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SirAnthonyHopkins Avatar
11 months ago

just curious, if almost everybody charge wireless, why people claim for a USB-C? actually why even those have cable connector, why not remove any port? (serious question).
I travel around a bit for work and being able to charge everything I take with me off a single cable would be really useful. Not game changing, but just nice to not have to remember multiple cables.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RowellE Avatar
11 months ago
Can Conversation Awareness be turned off? Some of us use our AirPods to drown out the voices of people that are talking to us. We all have that one coworker who won’t stop talking.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)