Apple's implementation, though, is more seamless as usual.
Personalized spatial audio is one of the new iOS 16 features, which was once more highlighted at Apple's event on Wednesday. Beginning on September 12, you'll be able to design a unique sound profile for your iPhone once you've updated to the newest version of iOS. This should enhance the sense of immersion and overall spatial audio experience you get from AirPods.
Apple scans your ears using the front-facing TrueDepth camera on the iPhone to create this custom tuning. Under a minute is required for the procedure, which entails holding your iPhone 10 to 20 centimetres from the side of your head. The information obtained is then utilized to enhance spatial audio for your particular ear shape.
Apple's Mary-Ann Rau stated during the keynote that "the way we all perceive sound is unique, based on the size and shape of our head and ears." The most immersive listening experience is provided by "personalized spatial audio," which precisely places sounds in space that are tailored particularly for you.
However, Apple isn't the first business to take this route. For compatible music services including Amazon Music, Tidal, Deezer, and Nugs.net, Sony has been providing "personalized 360 Reality Audio" since 2019. Both Sony and Apple are attempting to ascertain your ear shape and modify spatial audio processing to take into consideration the particular folds and contours of your ears. Conceptually, this is extremely comparable. The objective is to preserve the 3D audio experience and get rid of any audio flaws that decrease it.
With the help of Kaz Makiyama, vice president of video and sound at Sony Electronics, I was given the following benefits explanation by Sony back in June:
The small differences in the intensity and timing of sound entering the left and right ears from the sound source enable humans to identify spatial sound sources. Additionally, the shape of our ears and skull may affect the sound. So, this technology permits reconstruction of the sound field while wearing headphones by assessing and recreating the characteristics of both ears by taking photos of the ears.
However, Sony's strategy is a little bit more problematic than Apple's. The iOS settings already include the AirPods method. However, using the Headphones Connect app and the phone's camera, you must take a real snapshot of each ear in order to create a customized sound field with Sony's goods.
After being sent to Sony's servers for examination, the photos are kept there for a further 30 days so that Sony can use them for internal research and feature upgrades. The business claims that at this time, the ear photos are not individually connected to you.
That is not to claim, however, that Apple has mastered the art of ear-scanning. Some users on social media and on Reddit have complained that the iOS 16 beta process can be laborious and occasionally fails to detect an ear. I believe the reality is that there isn't a dead simple way to accomplish this while simultaneously getting a precise reading of your ear shape.
Everyone appears to agree that the work is worthwhile because these customized profiles frequently stand out and can enhance our impression of spatial audio. The TrueDepth camera records a depth map of your head and ears instead of taking actual photographs, much as how Face ID learns your facial features.
According to Apple's website, your customized spatial audio profile will be synced across all of your other Apple devices, including Macs and iPads, to ensure a consistent experience. That will be the case starting in October at the very least: the synchronization requires the next improvements to iPadOS and macOS. The third-generation AirPods, all AirPods Pro iterations, and the AirPods Max will all feature customized spatial audio.
Apple has never asserted that their use of customized spatial audio marks any firsts. Even though others—in this case, Sony—were already working in that direction, the company's management have frequently indicated that their objective is to come up with the greatest execution of meaningful features.