With the early 2024 release of Vision Pro quickly approaching, Apple is steadily updating its products to prepare for the new headset.
In addition to an upcoming spatial capture feature on iPhone 15 Pro, Apple also says its latest AirPods Pro wireless earbuds (2nd-gen, now with USB-C) will support lossless audio with ‘ultra-low latency’ to ensure that what you see and what you hear are closely synchronized for an immersive experience.
What Apple is calling a “groundbreaking wireless audio protocol” is powered by the H2 chip in the AirPods Pro 2 and Vision Pro. The specifics of the protocol haven’t been divulged, but the company says it will deliver 20-bit, 48 kHz lossless audio with a “massive reduction in audio latency.”
Low latency in XR is important because a headset’s visuals need to be as low latency as possible in order to keep users comfortable. Having audio that’s just as responsive (in order to keep sight and sounds in sync) sometimes comes at the cost of quality. The audio protocol Apple is now touting seems designed specifically to maintain lossless audio while also keeping latency as low as possible.
The AirPods Pro 2 have been out for a while, but when the company revealed its latest phones earlier this month with USB-C connectors for the first time, it also took the time to release the refreshed version of the Airpods Pro 2, now with USB-C as well.
This is also when we saw the first mention of the new low latency audio protocol; though considering that the original AirPods Pro 2 (with lightning connector) also has an H2 chip, we certainly hope it will also support the new protocol. As for the non-Pro version of AirPods—which only have an H1 chip—it isn’t clear if they will get support. We’ve reached out to Apple for more clarity on which devices will be supported.