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Apple turns the volume up a notch on AirPods, HomePod mini & Apple Music

Tue 19 Oct 2021

Today’s Apple announcements may bring music to Apple fans’ ears, with audio taking a huge focus in this month’s product announcements. This time around, the AirPods, HomePod and Apple Music get their turn in the spotlight. Here are the main takeaways.

Five years after Apple unveiled the very first generation of its signature white AirPods, they’re back - and might be - better, although the proof will be in the listening experience. 

The company has revealed the third generation of the little white buds, which feature a new ‘lightweight’ design and shorter stem for ear comfort, as well as IPX4 sweat and water resistance.

Apple’s H1 chip and acoustic system round out an adaptive EQ with the option of Dolby Atmos and dynamic head tracking. And in an effort to play catch-up to other audio brands, Apple has included a skin detection sensor which can tell if the AirPods are in a user’s ears, on the table, or somewhere else. AirPods are also covered by the Find My network so users can track their missing buds.

The AirPods will last six hours of listening time and four hours of talk time - Apple claims this is an hour more than the previous generation of AirPod.  AirPods also support MagSafe wireless charging.

The Airpods (3rd Generation) are available for NZ$329 from Apple starting today, and from stores from 26 October.  

In the spirit of all things audio, we’re mentioning HomePod mini briefly, mainly because they’ll soon be available in blue, orange and yellow as well as the standard white and space grey. 

HomePod mini will also include new features such as multi-user voice configuration support for Siri, automatic Siri volume, more Siri voice options, the ability to pair with Apple TV 4K, Apple TV controls, sounds, and connection to the Find My network.

The new HomePod mini colours will be available for NZ$159 through the Apple Store and authorised resellers from November.

And to top the entire music experience off, Apple is adding a new subscription tier within Apple Music. The Apple Music Voice Plan brings in Siri to help users navigate Apple Music’s catalogue, which tops 85 million songs, according to Apple.

Users can now ask Siri to start their Apple Music Voice trial. Once signed up, users can ask Siri to play playlists or certain types of music (Apple’s example is ‘Play something chill’).

Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, Oliver Schusser, says Apple Music and Siri just work naturally together.

“With Siri actively used on hundreds of millions of devices worldwide, we are thrilled to add this new plan that delivers an effortless music experience just by using your voice and makes Apple Music accessible to even more people around the world.”

The Apple Music Voice Plan will be priced at NZ$7.49 inc. GST per month. It will be available ‘later this spring’ in selected countries and regions, including Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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