A hidden setting that’s been lurking in the control centre of Apple’s iOS 15 and MacOS Monterey that significantly boosts vocal clarity whilst using video and audio calling apps has been found. Thanks to a discovery made by Twitter user ‘can duruk’ and further explored by The Verge’s David Pierce (opens in new tab), Voice Isolation has been dug out from the settings menu and thrust into the spotlight thanks to its surprising and significant quality improvements that it makes to your calls.
It can be toggled on easily whilst on a FaceTime (audio or video), WhatsApp or even Zoom call by swiping down from the top-right corner (iOS/iPadOS), or clicking (MacOS) the top right corner of your screen and selecting the Mic Modes menu; from there you can select Voice Isolation. Think of it as noise cancelling for your voice, as your device processes all incoming noise into the microphone and filters out any background noise to ensure your voice comes through much clearer in loud and busy environments. The results appear to be beneficial across the board with the report from The Verge saying that it can prevent anything from buzzing MacBook fans to barking dogs from interrupting your calls.
There do appear to be a few caveats to this new microphone mode, one being that it isn't a universal setting, meaning that for each app you use to make calls you will need to enable it separately. This is something that Apple could easily remedy with a software update, especially considering that the likes of the AirPods Pro will retain noise cancelling or transparency audio settings across the board; so fingers crossed that Apple allows you to set it as a default soon.
Another issue lies in its compatibility, or lack thereof in certain apps. On mobile devices, this doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem with FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom, Snapchat, Instagram and Slack all supporting it, with only TikTok being a major player that does take advantage of it yet. On the desktop operating system is where it seems to be lacking, with no support for the desktop version of Zoom – a real shame when considering how useful it would be when taking calls on a laptop in a noisy office or coffee shop. There is also no way to enable it when using in-browser apps like Google Meet, further stunting its potential for work use.
However it's easy to get bogged down in what it can't do and forget how useful it can be on mobile devices. For example, taking a call whilst walking through a bustling city or next to a busy road shouldn't impact how the person on the other end of the phone hears you. Could this lead to a new standard for high definition audio calls? Who knows, but for now you should hear less “sorry what was that?”
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