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This new iOS 17 AirPods Pro feature will take some iPhone users by surprise

Published Aug 24th, 2023 1:12PM EDT
Apple AirPods Pro 2 In Case
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Once iOS 17 rolls out to supported iPhone models, AirPods Pro owners will discover a few new features for their wireless earphones, including something called Conversation Awareness. It’s a great new AirPods trick that lets you have conversations without removing the earphones. The software will automatically lower the volume for you and boost the voice of the person in front of you.

If, like me, you follow all Apple software developments or are interested in tech innovation that can protect your hearing, you know what Conversation Awareness does. You might have experienced it already in the iOS 17 beta.

But most people don’t follow tech news so closely. They might think something is wrong with the expensive pair of Apple earphones they’re wearing. Thankfully, Siri will come to the rescue.

Apple’s voice assistant will inform the AirPods Pro owner why the volume just dropped as Conversation Awareness kicked on. Someone at 9to5Mac discovered the feature while using the latest iOS 17 beta. Siri chimed in with a message along the lines of “Just so you know, AirPods lowered the volume due to Conversation Awareness,” as the wearer was speaking with someone while listening to a podcast.

As we explained recently, Conversation Awareness is meant to improve communication while you use the AirPods Pro with your iPhone:

Conversation Awareness: Another feature that comes alongside Adaptative Audio is conversation awareness. AirPods Pro 2 owners can easily start a conversation while listening to a song. This function reduces background noise and amplifies the voice of the person in front of you.

Given the discovery above, it looks like Conversation Awareness may be enabled automatically on AirPods Pro once iOS 17 is released. You’ll probably be able to turn off the feature if you don’t want to take advantage of it. But I will definitely keep it on.

Apple iPhone 12 on a desk next to AirPods and an Amazon Echo Dot
Apple iPhone 12 on a desk next to AirPods and an Amazon Echo Dot. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

As I age, I pay more attention to my hearing than I used to. That’s why I have automations in place to ensure the iPhone’s volume is never near 100% when I’m about to use wireless earphones.

But the Conversation Awareness feature should absolutely come in handy. It doesn’t just lower the music volume, it also amplifies the other person’s voice. AirPods might become great hearing aids one day, but until we get there, features like Conversation Awareness are an excellent stopgap.

AirPods Pro 2 models will get additional features that can protect your hearing, like personalized volume and adaptive noise control. We’ve already covered these iOS 17 features for AirPods in case you need more details.

Apple will roll out the official iOS 17 release in a few weeks. That’s when you can experience Conversation Awareness on iPhone and AirPods Pro. Or you can install the latest beta and check out the feature right now.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.