AirPods Pro tipped for USB-C, but no big upgrades this year

Don't worry, though. iOS 17 is bringing some serious upgrades to AirPods Pro 2

Apple AirPods Pro 2 true wireless earbuds
(Image credit: Apple)

If you’re delaying your purchase of AirPods Pro 2 because you think a big update is coming, there’s no need to hang on: the only big hardware change this year is going to be a switch from Lightning to USB-C charging. That’s not to say useful changes aren’t coming in 2023. But they’re coming in software, not hardware, and that means you’ll be able to get them on AirPods Pro you buy today.

That’s according to Bloomberg, which reports that more advanced AirPods Pro are still in development on a three year upgrade cycle. The first AirPods Pro came out in 2019 and were updated in 2022, so the next big release isn’t due until 2025. 

So what can you expect in software later this year?

Apple AirPods Pro 2 and iOS 17: what to expect

Although Apple isn’t apparently planning any significant new hardware features, the launch of iOS 17, most likely in September 2023, is going to update your earbuds to deliver some useful new features. 

More features may be revealed between now and the final launch, but so far Apple has promised the long-awaited mute/unmute call feature, where you can press the stem of your AirPods (or the Digital Crown on your AirPods Max) to mute or unmute a call. That one works with both generations of AirPods Pro, the 3rd generation of AirPods and the AirPods Max too.

Another new feature is Personalized Volume. That remembers what volume settings you use for different apps, so for example if you tend to turn the volume right up for podcasts and right down for video or music then your AirPods will do that automatically.

Apple also says it’s made Automatic Switching much faster and smoother, but the most exciting iOS 17 feature for AirPods Pro 2 users is Adaptive Audio. Adaptive Audio takes two noise cancelling features, Transparency and Active Noise Cancellation, and blends them together. It then automatically adjusts that blend based on what it hears around you, so – if it works as advertised – you won’t hear road drills and noisy traffic, but it’ll soften the noise cancellation in quieter places. 

That feature should work alongside Conversation Awareness, a Sony-style feature that can detect when you want to chat and both reduces your audio playback volume and boosts the mic volume.

I don’t currently use AirPods – I am very much in love with my Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 – but these features and USB-C could be what it takes to win me over. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (