Apple AirPods is expected to have a new feature that will allow your AirPods to automatically switch to a voice call on your iPhone when a video is being played on your connected iPad or laptop without any manual selection.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Apple’s worldwide developer conference (WWDC 2020) was live-streamed online. The event was packed with big announcements and generated just as much excitement as an in-person event. One of the features expected in the new AirPods and other headphones is the ability to automatically switch audio inputs from different paired Apple devices (Source: Verge). This new feature will allow your AirPods to automatically switch to a voice call on your iPhone when a video is being played on your connected iPad or laptop without any manual selection. This new feature will be offered via a firmware upgrade.
We took a look at recent Apple patent filings to see if any were related to this technology.
U.S. Patent Publication No. 20200008035 assigned to Apple and titled, “Cloud-Based Proximity Pairing and Switching for Peer-to-Peer Devices” relates to a first wireless communication device (UE device) that establishes a first communication link with an accessory device according to a short-range radio access technology and transmits the link (pairing) information associated with the first communication link to a server, such as a cloud-based server. The server may share the information with other UE devices in the group. When the accessory device (508) is moved into the pairing proximity range of the second user device (506), the disconnect message may be sent over the cloud (502) to the currently connected device (504), enabling proximity switching. Thus, the technique obviates the need for a more lengthy pairing process, either automatic or manual, that requires an exchange—one or both ways—of link information (e.g. keys).
U.S. Patent Nos. 9,924,010 and 10,554,800 assigned to Apple and sharing the title, “Audio data routing between multiple wirelessly connected devices” both relate to a method of communicating audio data from either an active wireless device or a requesting wireless device to one or more audio reproduction devices (102, 104) that are simultaneously communicatively coupled to both the active wireless device and the requesting wireless device. The audio data is transmitted from the requesting wireless device based at least in part on an audio status of the active wireless device and a set of predetermined arbitration criteria that prioritizes among applications and operating system processes that generate the audio data.
Other relevant upgrades announced in the WWDC 2020 event include battery notifications that alert you if your headphones need to be charged and a spatial audio feature for AirPods Pro. According to Apple, the spatial audio feature will account for head motion by using a built-in gyroscope and accelerometer while applying audio filters and tweaking the frequencies that each ear receives to make it seem like the audio is “fixed” to the real world around you. We will cover these in our next update.