Monday, May 20, 2024

How to use Apple’s Conversation Awareness mode on the AirPods Pro

Chatting with someone while wearing your AirPods Pro has never been difficult: all it takes is a quick press-and-hold of the earbuds’ stem to activate transparency mode, and then it’s easy to hear anyone in your vicinity. But now Apple is taking things a step further and attempting to remove any and all friction from interacting with other people. This fall, the company rolled out a new feature called Conversation Awareness to the second-generation AirPods Pro.

When you enable this setting, the earbuds will detect whenever you’ve started speaking. And once you do, the volume of your music will automatically get dialed down, and the AirPods Pro will “enhance voices in front of you while reducing additional background noise,” according to Apple. Cleverly, music volume is lowered, but if you’re listening to something like a podcast, it’ll fully pause after a few seconds so you don’t miss any key moments.

Great for convenience, but not the best for self-talkers

This is slightly different from engaging the regular transparency mode since that lets through all ambient noise. With Conversation Awareness, Apple seems to be focusing on certain voice frequencies and trying to reduce other distractions. There’s also more directionality to it since voices in front of you are where the enhancement is focused.

After you’ve stopped talking, the audio through your earbuds will return to normal volume, and if you had noise cancellation mode turned on, your surroundings will fade away within just a few seconds. Apple is far from the first company to have thought of this idea; every headphone maker under the sun, from Sony to Samsung and now Google, has implemented a similar speech detection feature. And Conversation Awareness isn’t for everyone; if you do a lot of talking to yourself or a pet or tend to sing along with music, it’s probably best left toggled off.

There are two ways of enabling Conversation Awareness. It’s fastest to access the option through Control Center.
Screenshots: Chris Welch / The Verge

Alternatively, you can enable Conversation Awareness through Control Center. I’ve found this to be faster than the settings menu route.


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