Called 'Optimized Battery Charging', it works by learning from your charging habits, as Apple explained in a iOS 14 push notification:
"To reduce battery aging, AirPods learn from your daily charging routine so they can wait to finish charging past 80% until you need to use them."
This means that every time you charge your AirPods or AirPods Pro, iOS 14 will be analyzing your charging habits in the background.
Eventually, your iPhone will be able to predict when you're about to remove your AirPods from their charging case and then quickly charge them all the way to 100% – in theory, this will prevent the battery inside your buds from suffering reduced capacity over time.
Considering the battery life of the AirPods and the AirPods Pro isn't exactly class-leading, the ability to conserve every last drop of power is a welcome improvement to the wireless earbuds.
There's no word on whether this will work with Beats-branded headphones, though we'd expect the Powerbeats Pro to be able to benefit from this feature – after all, the exist within the same Apple ecosystem as the AirPods.
Better battery for all
This isn't the first time we've seen this kind of feature from Apple. Its previous iPhone operating system, iOS 13, introduced a feature that reduces how often the battery remains at 100% charged, in a bid to extend its lifespan.
A similar feature came to MacBooks last month, too. If you keep your MacBook plugged in most of the time – and don’t use it out and about much – the overall battery capacity is now artificially cut back, to prevent this kind of use from negatively affecting the battery in the long-term.
Unfortunately, unless you're part of Apple's developer program, you'll have to wait until the iOS 14 public beta is released in July to see this new AirPods feature in action. The final version is expected to land in September, when we're hoping to see an iPhone 12 release date – and possibly the first Apple over-ear headphones, the AirPods Studio.