Apple has recently filed a declaration saying it intends to use a more advanced version of Bluetooth than it ever has before, which is potentially a great sign for iPhone 14 and AirPods Pro 2, because it would enable a couple of very useful audio upgrades.
Spotted by MacRumors, the Apple filing with Bluetooth's control group means that the company could start including Bluetooth 5.2 in future products, which it hasn't done so far. The filing actually references Bluetooth 5.3, but MacRumors points out that Apple always files for one version above the Bluetooth version it uses in practice, for some reason.
Why do we care about which version of Bluetooth Apple is using? Because Bluetooth 5.2 has one particular new feature that very useful, although admittedly it's – shall we say – a practical one rather than a wildly exciting one.
It's called LE Audio, and it's designed to give you better audio quality, especially when the connection between your phone and your headphones gets weak. The claim from Bluetooth's official site is that the new system can sound better than current Bluetooth audio even when it's only able to use 50% as much data in the connection.
This means that with LE Audio devices, you could go much further from your device, or have more walls/interference between your phone and your headphones before the sound cuts out. If should just feel more reliable and flexible.
It also means there's the potential for longer battery life from AirPods that use it, because it could transmit in good quality, but much more efficiently.
That's assuming Apple implements it, of course. It's a feature that has to be specifically supported in products, so just having Bluetooth 5.2 in your phone and earbuds doesn't necessarily mean you actually get LE Audio.
Easier audio sharing
The other interesting feature that Bluetooth 5.2 supports is AuraCast, which is a way of sharing audio over Bluetooth with lots of devices at once, which hasn't been possible in the past.
There are lots of suggested uses for this: if supported in AirPods, it could enable you to connect to a shared screen in a public place to get personal audio from it; if supported on iPhone, it could mean you can share your music or sound from a video to multiple headphones from any manufacturer (as long as they also support AuraCast).
It could be like the audio sharing that AirPods currently have, but on steroids.
Neither of these features can be added to the iPhone 13 or earlier, or any existing AirPods (including the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max), because they all only support Bluetooth 5.0 at most. So even though a .2 upgrade doesn't sound like much, we're hoping it'll make a big difference.