What just happened? AirPods users, rejoice! Microsoft is planning to add Bluetooth audio with AAC support to Windows 10 in its next major update. This update should only reach the stable branch later this year, but Windows Insiders can already try the feature once they download Preview Build 21370.
The AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) codec may not be widely used across the industry, but Apple devices have been employing it for quite some time. All Apple Bluetooth earphones support AAC, but due to the lack of adoption of the codec by other developers, users are somewhat bound to use them only inside Apple’s ecosystem.
Taking the Apple AirPods as an example, when connecting them to a Windows 10 PC, it will use SBC because the current Windows 10 build only supports Bluetooth audio via SBC or Qualcomm’s AptX. Downgrading to SBC allows the AirPods to reproduce audio, but at a loss of quality that some users may not be fond of.
This issue is solved on Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21370, which focuses on improving the Bluetooth audio experience by adding support for AAC. With this, AirPods users may finally make full use of their earphones when connected to a Windows 10 PC.
Microsoft is also redesigning the UI to offer a “unified audio endpoint.” If you take a look at the taskbar sound menu, you will notice there are various options, probably too much for your liking. Windows’ next big update aims to simplify this, reducing the number of options and automatically switching between them.
The new taskbar sound menu is only one of many UI improvements that Microsoft is working on. Windows 10 is expected to receive a revamped Start Menu and new File Explorer icons, and the Microsoft Store is reportedly being redesigned for the next major Windows update.