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Apple doesn’t need to rush an update to the AirPods Max

Published Jun 28th, 2023 1:49PM EDT
AirPods Max Noise Cancelling Headphones
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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I’ve been thinking about this one since WWDC and, after seeing a recent opinion saying that the AirPods Max are falling behind, I had to write this one.

When Apple held WWDC back at the beginning of June, the company spent a little bit of time talking about some updates that will be coming to audio. Specifically, Apple focused on two areas: audio features for its headphones and a nice update to Siri.

AirPods Pro 2 are getting some exclusive features

For audio features, the company says that the AirPods Pro 2, and ONLY the AirPods Pro 2, will be getting some new handy features when iOS 17 launches in the fall. The first feature is Adaptive Audio, which will intelligently switch between Transparency and Noise Cancellation modes rather than you having to manually switch back and forth yourself.

The second feature is Personalized Volume, which will intelligently increase and decrease the volume of your AirPods Pro 2 based on the listening preferences that it learns from you. As it learns your volume preferences, the feature should get more accurate over time.

Apple AirPods Pro 2Image source: Apple

The last feature is Conversation Awareness, which will automatically pause audio when the headphones know that you are talking. Instead of having to manually pause your audio in order to have a conversation, this feature should do it for you — and then, resume the audio once your conversation is finished.

The earbuds are also getting an update where, instead of having to say “Hey, Siri,” you’ll now be able to just say “Siri” to activate the smart assistant.

All of these features, according to Apple, require the processing power of the new H2 chip, which is currently only in the AirPods Pro 2. So, for everyone with AirPods Max, these features will be missing from the headphones.

I don’t think this necessitates an update to AirPods Max

While it sucks that none of these features are coming to the AirPods Max, I don’t think these alone are a good enough reason for Apple to release a second generation of the over-the-ear headphones.

When I think about how I use my AirPods Max, all of the features coming to the AirPods Pro 2 seem less important the longer I think about it. My AirPods Max are used in a few key areas of my life — when I’m trying to focus on the computer while working, watching a movie on a plane, and when I want to kick back and listen to music in the best quality possible.

AirPods Max Earpad

All of these scenarios are inherently more private so all of the features coming to the AirPods Pro 2 don’t really translate to something I would necessarily reap major benefits from by bringing them to the AirPods Max. Adaptive Audio and Conversation Awareness are basically lost on me with the larger headphones since I’ll rarely be talking to anyone in the situations that I have them on and, since I’m always using them while stationary, don’t need them to be adaptive to different environments.

Personalized Volume is the only one that might be nice but, honestly, turning the crown isn’t going to cause me any gripes. Shortening Siri is also nice to have, but it’s certainly not a required feature. I don’t find myself using Siri with my headphones that often.

I’d rather see a more substantial update

While these features coming to AirPods Max will be a nice addition, they certainly aren’t enough for me to want Apple to push out a second generation for those alone. I’d want to see something more substantial from the company to warrant a new generation.

Image source: Parker Ortolani

If there’s one area I’d love to see Apple improve it would be the sheer weight of the headphones. The AirPods Max, while made out of premium materials, are undeniably heavy due to their stainless steel construction. There have been rumors of Apple switching to titanium in the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro as it uses in the Apple Watch Ultra in order to maintain toughness while decreasing weight, and I’d love to see the company make the same move with AirPods Max 2.

Of course, I’m never going to decline an upgrade in audio quality either but, with how good they already sound, there’s not much else I can see myself wanting from Apple in order to improve these already stellar headphones. Oh, except for changing the Lightning port to USB-C. Come on, already.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.