iOS 16.1 brings adaptive transparency mode to the first AirPods Pro and AirPods Max

Apple’s brought its adaptive transparency mode to the original AirPods Pro with iOS 16.1 beta 3 after this handy feature debuted on the second-generation model.

UPDATE: Adaptive transparency has been confirmed to work on AirPods Max with iOS 16.1, several users have confirmed on social media.

The original AirPods Pro earbuds lying on a black leather table cover
Will the first AirPods Pro get adaptive transparency? | Image: Miguel Angel Avila / Unsplash
  • What’s happening? The third beta of iOS 16.1 has brought the adaptive transparency option for the first-generation AirPods Pro.
  • Why care? Because we thought this feature was exclusive to AirPods Pro 2, the only Apple earbuds at the moment with the new H2 headphone chip.
  • What to do? Wait until iOS 16.1 launches to the public in October. If this isn’t a bug, you’ll get the adaptive transparency mode on the first AirPods Pro.

AirPods Pro gain adaptive transparency in iOS 16.1 beta 3

According to Reddit, folks with iOS 16.1 beta 3 installed on their iPhone have noticed an “Adaptive Transparency” toggle appearing for their first-generation AirPods Pro. Read: AirPods Pro 2 tips—touch controls, Find My and more

It only shows up if the user has iOS 16.1 beta 3 running on their iPhone and the 5A304A beta firmware has been installed on their earbuds. Keep in mind that this could very well turn out to be a software bug—Apple only recently introduced adaptive transparency with the second-generation AirPods Pro.

Do the original AirPods Pro support adaptive transparency?

The second-generation AirPods Pro are currently the only earbuds powered by Apple’s new H2 headphone chip, which is enough for us to speculate that the adaptive transparency mode might require the processing power of the H2.

In that’s indeed the case, then this is a bug and you shouldn’t expect the final version of iOS 16.1 to magically add adaptive transparency to the original AirPods Pro.

If not, then this could be a pleasant surprise for owners of the original AirPods Pro—it’s not every day that Apple adds new features to an accessory it no longer sells.

What is adaptive transparency?

AirPods Pro and AirPods Max are the only models that support the transparency noise-canceling mode., which mixes in any sounds from the world around you.

As such, the transparency mode lets you enjoy noise cancellation while still being acutely aware of your environment. With the second-generation AirPods Pro, Apple has brought enhanced transparency mode, dubbed adaptive transparency.

What that does is reduce loud environmental noise for an even better experience. For instance, sounds such as a passing vehicle siren, construction tools or loudspeakers at a concert will be muffled to protect your hearing.

iOS 16.1 is nearing its release in October

iOS 16.1 is currently in the third beta, so there will be at least a couple more betas before the software update is ready for prime time. Apple has promised to launch iOS 16.1 sometime in October.

The company is expected to hold another product event next month so this update will almost certainly be released before new hardware lands on store shelves. New Apple silicon Mac computers and iPad Pro tablets are expected to be announced, and Apple has yet to release iPadOS 16.1 and macOS Ventura.

What’s new in iOS 16.1?

We’ve rounded up all the changes in the third beta of iOS 16.1.

The release is going to focus heavily on squishing some pretty annoying bugs that iOS 16.0 users reported. Aside from bug fixes, there will be some new features, too.

Such as the ability to edit both your lock and home screens in Settings → Wallpaper, automatic preloading of in-app content when you download the app so it’s ready to go on first run and more.

iOS 16.1 will also bring Live Activities to the lock screen and Dynamic Island. Meanwhile, iPadOS 16.1 will bring the controversial Stage Manager feature to older iPad models powered by Apple’s A12X and A12Z chipsets.