Apple’s latest patent filing shows that future AirPods may allow consumers to disable Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) with a single codeword. Active Noise Cancellation is built into the AirPods Pro 2 to assist consumers filter out ambient noise for a distraction-free music experience. However, since ANC filters almost all noises indiscriminately, users may miss vital communications from friends and family, a problem the company is attempting to remedy with its new patent.
Active Noise Cancellation works by detecting external noises using an outward-facing microphone or microphones, which your AirPods Pro 2 then counter with anti-noise, suppressing the external sounds before anyone hears them. An inward-facing microphone listens inside your ear for unwelcome internal noises, which your AirPods Pro 2 also mitigates with noise reduction.
The issue is that, although ANC creates an “improved listening experience” for audio coming from the headphones, it also shuts out any other noises, even those you would wish to hear. Consider someone calling your name or yelling “Watch out!” to warn you of an approaching automobile.
The patent application makes it quite apparent that the system will discriminate between distinct noises in order to determine whether an interruption is acceptable. What it does not state, however, is what the tech would do in the event of a disruption. For instance, would it just disable noise canceling and audio playing, or will it play a sound to convey to the user that they should pay attention to the actual world? As is typically the case with patents, Apple may decide not to pursue the feature at all.
The approach is anticipated to function similarly to existing voice assistants, which allow for voice control of headphones and earbuds. According to the patent paper, the technology will also allegedly guarantee that only “predesignated contacts” may disturb the noise-canceled audio experience, implying that the gadgets may possibly have some kind of speech recognition. The settings would reportedly need to be defined in a linked electronic device, implying that consumers will need to configure their preset contacts in their iPhone.
The process of switching between the modes is easy. You can press and hold the force sensor on an AirPod to toggle between ANC and Transparency modes when wearing both AirPods. In Settings, you may specify which modes to switch between ANC and transparency.
To enable Active Noise Cancellation with a single AirPod, you have to go to Settings and from they choose Accessibility, and then Noise Cancellation with One AirPod on your iPhone or iPad. Then, while holding down on the force sensor, choose between ANC, Transparency, and Off.