Apple reveals how AirPods Pro will use clever head tracking tech for Spatial Audio

apple spatial audio
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple has revealed new details on how the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max will work with Spatial Audio content on tvOS devices, like the Apple TV 4K, after it was announced at WWDC 2021

Speaking to Engadget, Apple said that the feature will work with stereo, 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos content to make your TV shows and movies sound super immersive, and as though the audio is coming at you from every angle.

Apple also provided a little insight into how the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max will use head tracking to ensure that the sound's directional cues are placed accurately. 

According to Engadget, "when you sit down to watch a movie or TV show, the included head tracking feature will lock in after it detects you’ve been looking in the same direction for a while."

If you then get up to grab a drink or answer the door, the head tracking technology will reactivate once you sit back down.

Connecting your AirPods to your tvOS device should be easy, too. Apple says that, when you're near the device with your headphones or earbuds, you'll see a popup that allows you to connect straight away.

No need for a soundbar

Although the Apple TV 4K already supported Dolby Atmos passthrough – a popular form of spatial audio – this new update means that you can experience immersive, cinematic sound without the need for a complex speaker setup or expensive Dolby Atmos soundbar. (Not that the AirPods Max are particularly budget friendly).

Plus, if you're watching TV late at night, you can just hook up your AirPods to your device so you can hear all the action without disturbing the people around you.

WWDC 2021 also saw in a host of new upgrades for its range of AirPods wireless earbuds and headphones, alongside the launch of iOS 15.

However, there was no mention of the rumored AirPods 3, and all these new upgrades for the existing range could mean we'll be waiting until the end of the year (at least) to see them.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.