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Can such a subtle change really make a difference to audio quality? Apple seems to think so

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A close-up image comparing the ear tips of Apple’s original AirPods Pro and the second-generation model released in 2022.

The original AirPods Pro tips (left) have denser mesh than the new second-gen tips (right).

Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge

In my review of the new second-generation AirPods Pro, I pointed out that the inner mesh / filter of the ear tips is slightly different than those belonging to the original earbuds. As it turns out, that’s part of why Apple advises against using first-gen tips on the new model and vice versa. As MacRumors noticed, the company has updated its support page on AirPods Pro ear tips with a new section that says “ear tips have been designed specifically for their AirPods Pro generation, to deliver the highest-fidelity audio experience.”

“As a result, use the ear tips that come with your AirPods Pro. AirPods Pro (1st generation) ear tips have noticeably denser mesh than AirPods Pro (2nd generation) ear tips,” Apple’s support site reads.

Could a looser mesh pattern really make any difference to sound quality? If it’s there, it’s extremely subtle. Swapping back and forth between the first- and second-gen tips on the latest AirPods Pro, I didn’t notice any immediate or obvious sound changes. Noise cancellation also remained just as effective with both pairs. Maybe lab testing equipment can reveal some differences between the tips, but your ears will probably have a harder time at it.

When I used an old tip in one ear and a new one in the other — a situation where acoustic differences should be the most evident — music again sounded normal and balanced.

Apple’s decision to redesign the ear tip mesh might have been for the benefit of Adaptive EQ, the always-on feature that constantly analyzes the fit, seal, and sound performance of the AirPods Pro by using the built-in mics. Adaptive EQ optimizes audio output and noise cancellation in real time. It’s possible that for each model of AirPods Pro, Adaptive EQ is tuned to expect the default factory mesh density.

Apple must think something is different enough to warrant selling the old and new tips separately instead of fully switching over to the new version for all replacements. The company isn’t making more money from the new ones: the price remains $7.99 for two sets of replacement tips for either generation.

Whatever the case, despite Apple’s encouragement to stick with the right ear tips for the new AirPods Pro, you won’t notice any major issues should you need to switch to a backup set from your old pair. They fit perfectly; same goes for aftermarket foam tips that some people might’ve purchased for the original AirPods Pro. The ear tip connector on the earbuds is the same, even if much of what’s inside the latest AirPods has been upgraded and improved.

If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker’s popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it’s been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.

Spain’s Transports Urbans de Sabadell has La Bussí.

Once again, the US has fallen behind in transportation — call it the Bussí gap. A hole in our infrastructure, if you will.

Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13

Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

“Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.

Nvidia’s latest AI model generates endless 3D models.

Need to fill your video game, VR world, or project render with 3D chaff? Nvidia’s latest AI model could help. Trained on 2D images, it can churn out customizable 3D objects ready to import and tweak.

The model seems rudimentary (the renders aren’t amazing quality and seem limited in their variety), but generative AI models like this are only going to improve, speeding up work for all sorts of creative types.

Japan will fully reopen to tourists in October following two and a half years of travel restrictions.

Good news for folks who have been waiting to book their dream Tokyo vacation: Japan will finally relax Covid border control measures for visa-free travel and individual travelers on October 11th.

Tourists will still need to be vaccinated three times or submit a negative COVID-19 test result ahead of their trip, but can take advantage of the weak yen and a ‘national travel discount’ launching on the same date. Sugoi!

Sony starts selling the Xperia 1 IV with continuous zoom lens.

What does it cost to buy a smartphone that does something no smartphone from Apple, Google, Samsung can? $1,599.99 is Sony’s answer: for a camera lens that can shift its focal length anywhere between 85mm and 125mm.

Here’s Allison’s take on Sony’s continuous-zoom lens when she tested a prototype Xperia 1 IV back in May: 

Sony put a good point-and-shoot zoom in a smartphone. That’s an impressive feat. In practical use, it’s a bit less impressive. It’s essentially two lenses that serve the same function: portrait photography. The fact that there’s optical zoom connecting them doesn’t make them much more versatile.

Still, it is a Sony, and like.no.other.

If God sees everything, so do these apps.

Some Churches are asking congregants to install so-called “accountability apps” to prevent sinful behavior. A Wired investigation found that they monitor almost everything a user does on their phone, including taking regular screenshots and flagging LGBT search terms.

Shutterstock punts on AI-generated content.

Earlier this week, Getty Images banned the sale of AI-generated content, citing legal concerns about copyright. Now, its biggest rival, Shutterstock, has responded by doing … absolutely nothing. In a blog post, Shutterstock’s CEO Paul Hennessy says there are “open questions on the copyright, licensing, rights, and ownership of synthetic content and AI-generated art,” but doesn’t announce any policy changes. So, you can keep on selling AI art on Shutterstock, I guess.

This custom Super73 makes me want to tongue-kiss an eagle.

Super73’s tribute to mountain-biking pioneer Tom Ritchey has my inner American engorged with flag-waving desire. The “ZX Team” edition features a red, white, and blue colorway with custom components fitted throughout. Modern MTBers might scoff at the idea of doing any serious trail riding on a heavy Super73 e-bike, which is fine: this one-off is not for sale. 

You can, however, buy the Super73 ZX it’s based on (read my review here), which proved to be a very capable all-terrain vehicle on asphalt, dirt, gravel, and amber fields of grain.

The sincerest form of flattery.

I had little interest in Apple’s Dynamic Island, but once a developer built their spin on the idea for Android, I had to give it a try.

Surprisingly, I’ve found I actually like it, and while dynamicSpot isn’t as well-integrated as Apple’s version, it makes up for it with customization. Nilay’s iPhone 14 Pro review asked Apple to reverse the long-press to expand vs. tap to enter an app setup. In dynamicSpot, you can do that with a toggle (if you pay $5).

DynamicSpot app on Android shown expanding music player, in the style of Apple’s Dynamic Island in iOS 16.

DynamicSpot in action on a Google Pixel 6

Image: Richard Lawler

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