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Posts tagged with "headphones"

AirBuddy 2 Review: Fine-Grained, Customizable Control of the Wireless Headphones and Devices Connected to Your Mac

AirBuddy is one of those handy Mac utilities that you don’t know how you’ve lived without until after you’ve tried it. The initial release that I reviewed in early 2019 was primarily designed to manage Bluetooth headphones connected to your Mac and report the status of your headphones’ batteries; something iOS and iPadOS does better than macOS. With AirBuddy 2, developer Guilherme Rambo has added a bunch of new features, including new ways to customize the app and interact with Bluetooth devices other than headphones.

AirBuddy 2 can manage a variety of wireless headphones.

AirBuddy 2 can manage a variety of wireless headphones.

As with the original version of AirBuddy, when you open your AirPods or Beats headphone case near your Mac, a window opens, showing you the status of their batteries and connection. The app also works with Bluetooth headphones that rely on an on/off switch like the Beats Solo line. From AirBuddy’s status window, you can click to connect the headphones to your Mac or swipe to connect and set their listening mode in one gesture.

AirBuddy 2’s listening modes allow you to adjust multiple headphone settings all at once when the app connects your headphones to your Mac. For example, you can turn your headphones’ microphone on for meetings or off for listening to music and set the volume and whether AirPods Pro play audio in Normal, Transparency, or Noise Cancelling modes. The combinations you pick for your listening modes are saved as profiles in the app’s settings.

AirBuddy 2's menu bar app.

AirBuddy 2’s menu bar app.

AirBuddy 2 is also a menu bar app. Clicking its menu bar icon opens a window that shows all your connected devices and their battery status, including Macs, iPhones, and iPads. The devices are grouped, so, for example, your Apple Watch shows up as connected to your iPhone as would any AirPods you’re currently using with your iPhone. If you run AirBuddy 2 on a second Mac, that Mac will show up here, too, along with any Bluetooth peripherals connected to it.

Transferring a connected Magic Trackpad from my Mac mini to my MacBook Pro.

Transferring a connected Magic Trackpad from my Mac mini to my MacBook Pro.

My favorite part of having AirBuddy 2 running on multiple Macs is the ability to transfer Bluetooth connections from one Mac to the other using the app’s Magic Handoff feature. I spent a lot of the summer with separate trackpads connected to two Macs as I switched back and forth, testing Big Sur. AirBuddy 2 provides an alternate desk-clearing option by letting you right-click the AirBuddy entry for a trackpad, mouse, or keyboard connected to the Mac you’re currently using and switch it to the other Mac. For anyone who runs multiple Macs, especially connected to the same display, this is a terrific feature.

AirBuddy 2 includes extensive settings to customize its behavior to suit your tastes.

AirBuddy 2 includes extensive settings to customize its behavior to suit your tastes.

AirBuddy 2 is highly customizable too. In addition to setting up custom listening modes, which I covered above, you can open the app’s settings from the menu bar and assign keyboard shortcuts to display the headphone status window and to quickly connect to a favorite device, switch listening modes, toggle your microphone on or off, and take other actions. Settings also lets you specify the devices that are shown in the menu bar app, your favorite headphones for quick connection purposes, the status window’s size, and where it appears onscreen, among other things. You can even view historical battery and usage data from the Devices section of the app’s settings.

AirBuddy 2's Catalina widget (left) and Big Sur three sizes of widgets (right).

AirBuddy 2’s Catalina widget (left) and Big Sur three sizes of widgets (right).

It’s also worth noting that AirBuddy 2 also includes a widget that works with both Catalina and Big Sur to display the battery status of each of the devices it tracks.

AirBuddy started as an app that brought an iOS feature for headphones to the Mac. With AirBuddy 2, the app’s functionality has been greatly expanded beyond anything Apple offers, making it indispensable for anyone who connects multiple wireless devices to their Macs. Not only can you quickly connect headphones, so they’re immediately ready for a meeting or for listening to music, but the app helps keep you on top of the battery status of every connected device.

AirBuddy has been available for pre-order since last month, but today is its official release date. You can purchase the app directly from the AirBuddy website for $9.99 for new users, $4.99 as an upgrade from the first version of AirBuddy if you bought it in 2019, and for free if you purchased the app in 2020.


Updated Powerbeats Earphones Coming Wednesday for $149

Over the past few days a new version of Powerbeats began showing up in retail locations and online. Today, Apple subsidiary Beats made the update official on its website with additional details.

The new Powerbeats, which replace the Powerbeats3, feature 15 hours of battery life (a 3-hour increase) and the latest H1 chip used in the AirPods Pro. With the addition of the H1 chip, the new Powerbeats support hands-free Siri, fast Bluetooth pairing, extended range, and audio sharing. The Powerbeats charge via a Lightning connector and include a ‘Fast Fuel’ feature that provides up to 1.5 hours of battery life from a 5-minute charge.

The design of the Powerbeats has been changed too. The new model resembles the Powerbeats Pro, and unlike the Powerbeats3, the cord connecting the two earphones emerges from the ear hook that sits behind your ear instead of from the front of the earphones. As with the previous model, this update is sweat resistant too. The Powerbeats are available in red, black, and white at launch.

Beats has reduced the retail price of the new Powerbeats to $149, which is $50 less than the previous model. Although they are not yet listed on apple.com or available for purchase on Beats’ website, The Verge says the new Powerbeats will be available this Wednesday, March 18th from Apple, Best Buy, and other Beats retailers.


New Beats Solo Pro Headphones Featuring Apple’s H1 Chip Are Available for Pre-Order

Apple subsidiary Beats has announced a new version of the Beats Solo Pro noise cancelling headphones, which can be pre-ordered now and will begin shipping at the end of the month.

The new headphones, which retail for $299, feature Apple’s H1 chip that also powers the second-generation AirPods and Powerbeats Pro. The H1 chip enables hands-free ‘Hey Siri’ commands and the ability to share audio with someone using the Audio Sharing feature that Apple debuted with iOS and iPadOS 13. The headphones also have volume, track, and call controls on the right ear cup and a button for turning noise cancellation and their Transparency feature on and off on the left ear cup.

Unfolding and folding the Solo Pros turns them on and off.

Unfolding and folding the Solo Pros turns them on and off.

The Beats Solo Pros feature active noise cancellation to filter out external sound and what Beats calls Transparency that uses external microphones to allow some sounds through, so users remain aware of their surroundings when using the headphones. According to Beats, the headphones, which are turned on and off by unfolding and folding them, get 22 hours of battery life with noise cancellation and Transparency turned on. If those features are turned off, the company says the battery life lasts 40 hours. The company also says that a ten-minute charge provides up to 3 hours of battery life. The Solo Pros charge with a USB-A to Lightning cable for the first time too.

The Solo Pros come in six colors: light blue, red, dark blue, ivory, black, and gray. Although The Verge and other sites report that the new headphones will begin shipping on October 30th in the US, apple.com currently lists the ship date as October 29th during the pre-order checkout process.