In 2020, Bluetooth 5.2 was introduced with support for a new LE Audio specification. At least two Apple employees are listed as participants in the development of LE Audio, and Apple is likely to adopt the specification for use in future devices.
According to a newly published filing in the Bluetooth SIG database, Apple recently had an unknown component with Bluetooth 5.3 support tested. The filing does not reveal any other notable details, but along with a similar filing last month, it suggests that Apple is preparing for future devices with Bluetooth versions that support LE Audio.
LE Audio would be particularly beneficial for AirPods, such as the second-generation AirPods Pro rumored to launch later this year. Below, we’ve outlined five benefits that LE Audio would have for future AirPods Pro, assuming that source devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac are also upgraded with support for the specification in the future.
- Improved audio quality: LE Audio includes a new low-power audio codec called LC3 that provides improved audio quality compared to the classic SBC codec, even at a 50% lower bit rate, according to the Bluetooth SIG.
- Longer battery life: With the low-power LC3 audio codec, future AirPods Pro would have longer battery life for audio playback.
- Multi-stream audio: LE Audio would enable the transmission of multiple synchronized audio streams between a source device like an iPhone or Mac and the AirPods Pro. This would allow for an individual left and right AirPod to each have its own Bluetooth audio connection with a device supporting LE Audio for improved reliability.
- Connect many pairs of AirPods to an iPhone at once: LE Audio would allow for many pairs of AirPods to directly connect to a future iPhone, iPad, Mac, or other device and listen to the same audio at once. Apple already has a feature that allows an iPhone or iPad user with AirPods to share audio with another person with AirPods, but the feature does not work with more than two pairs of AirPods.
- No switching between iPhone and Mac required: LE Audio would allow AirPods to connect to multiple source devices like an iPhone and Mac simultaneously, eliminating the need to switch the AirPods between devices.
In July, the Bluetooth SIG said it anticipates availability of products with support for LE Audio to ramp up by the end of 2022.