The new Apple AirPods work well with the iPhone, iPad and Mac. They sound decent and last longer than most Bluetooth wireless earbuds thanks to the W1 chip inside. The included carrying case doubles as a battery backup and charges the earbuds when not in use giving users long battery life.
We want to show users how to get the most out of their Apple AirPods with these ten power tips. These tips will help you get more battery life, work with Siri and even hook them up to non-Apple devices.
Pair Apple AirPods with Every Apple Device
Most people think about the iPhone as the primary device people will use with their AirPods. Apple introduced the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus at the same time they revealed their new Bluetooth headphones. Apple removed the headphone jack from the latest iPhone making Bluetooth earbuds more useful. Some people thought Apple removed the headphone jack to push buyers into buying accessories like the AirPods or the new Beats headphones.
Apple’s AirPods work great with the following Apple devices:
- All iPhones from iPhone 5 and newer
- All iPads from the iPad mini 2 or the iPad Air and newer
- The 6th generation iPod Touch
- Macs that support Apple’s handsoff technology
- Apple Watch
On these devices the user can use their Apple AirPods following our useful How To on pairing with these devices. In fact, once the user pairs with an iPhone, they’re already paired with these other devices thanks to iCloud’s syncing feature.
Switch Between Apple Devices
Since iCloud syncs AirPods pairing with an iPhone to the other devices connected to that iCloud account, the user can quickly connect to the other devices. Open the iPhone or iPad control Center by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
Swipe to show the Control Center’s media player controls by swiping left. At the bottom of the screen there’s a drop down arrow. Tap it to show the devices connected to the iPhone. You should see the AirPods on the list. Tap it to connect. If it’s not listed, then open the case and put at least one AirPod in your ear. Most won’t need to do that. The same thing works on an iPad or iPod Touch.
On a Mac, click the Bluetooth icon from the menu bar and the drop down list should show the AirPods. If you don’t see the Bluetooth menu bar icon, you will need to turn it on. Click and hold on the Dock System Preferences icon and wait for the list of settings to show up. Click Bluetooth and put a check mark in the box labelled Show Bluetooth in menu bar.
From now on you can select your AirPods from the Bluetooth menu, as shown above, and connect to them. Once connected you can use the Sound icon’s drop down menu to switch from your computer speakers to the headphones paired with the Mac.
To use your AirPods with an Apple TV or non-Apple devices you will need to follow the pairing guide in the next section. You might need to turn off Bluetooth on nearby Apple devices to switch to those non-Apple devices.
Pair Apple AirPods with non-Apple Devices
It surprises some AirPod owners that the Bluetooth earbuds also hook up to non-Apple devices. See this How To for the steps to connect AirPods with Android phones, tablets, computers and other Bluetooth enabled devices. It’s as simple as turning on the Bluetooth feature in that device and then pressing and holding the button on the back of the AirPods carrying/charging case. They will show up as a traditional Bluetooth device in the Bluetooth pairing screen on the non-Apple device. The above screenshot shows what it looks like in Android on a Google Pixel XL phone.
Charge AirPods with iPhone Lightning Docks
Do you own an iPhone or iPad dock with a lightning connector. Any Lightning charging cable or dock will charge your earbuds.
I own a dock/alarm clock that has two lightning connectors. I charge my iPhone on one of them and my AirPods on the other. This charges the case and the AirPods themselves.
Check Battery Life
It’s simple to check the battery life. Open the carrying/charging case with your iPhone in hand. When the lid opens a pop-up shows their battery level.
You can also swipe down from the top of the iPhone to show the notification area. Swipe to the right to see the battery level indicator. It shows the phone’s level, the AirPods and if you own it, an Apple Watch. On an iPad Pro, it will also show the battery level of an Apple Pencil.
To see the level on a Mac, look at the Bluetooth menu bar item and it will show the battery level.
On an Apple Watch, swipe up and tap on the battery indicator. It will show their battery life at the bottom of the screen.
Use Siri to Listen to Music with AirPods
To use Siri, double tap the AirPod just above the spot where the long cylinder connects to the part that fits in your ears. This engages Siri on the phone and the phone listens for your commands or questions through the AirPod mic. This works with either the left or right earbud. Users can also change the settings to make it play or pause music instead. See instructions below to change this setting.
Here’s a list of some useful commands that you might want to use while listening to music.
- Play “song name” or “podcast name”
- Play “playlist names”
- Lower or Raise volume 10% (or any percent you like)
- Skip back/forward/to the next song
- Skip back/forward 10 seconds or any number of seconds you want
Make Phone Calls with AirPods
If you’re working and want to make phone calls without taking out your phone, then you can use the same double-tap control above. When you receive a call, double-tap to answer. Then hang up the call using the same control.
Some people would rather get an announcement telling them who’s calling. To do this, go into the phone’s Settings app and choose Phone. Under the CALLS section, find Announce Calls. Tap it to show the options. You can choose…
- Headphones & Car to only do it while connected to Bluetooth headphones or you Bluetooth car system.
- Headphones Only
Double tap the AirPods to engage Siri and use the same commands for making calls that you use on the phone. For example, “Call my wife” will call a contact with the nickname “my wife” entered in the contact’s “assistant” field. You can also use a contact’s name. “Text Michael” will start a text message to a contact named Michael.
Name Your AirPods
Maybe you don’t like that the Apple default name uses your first name and AirPods (Kevin’s AirPods in my case). Change the name by first connecting them to an iPhone. Then open Settings and choose Bluetooth. Tap on info button, a lower case i inside a circle, next to the name of the AirPods from the list of connected devices. Here you’ll see all sorts of settings. Find the name and tap it. Type in a new name and tap Done.
Change Other AirPods Settings
While looking at the screen for the AirPods settings, consider changing the others listed. You’ll find the following:
- Disconnect – you can disconnect them without deleting them from the list of paired Bluetooth devices
- Forget This Device – this unpairs the AirPods so you can’t reconnect without pairing them again.
- Name – explained above.
- Double Tap On AirPods – chooses what happens when you double tap. It’s set by default to control Siri, but you can change it to Play/Pause media or turn this feature off.
- Automatic Ear Detection – they can tell if they’re in your ears. Turn this off if you prefer not to automatically connect the audio from the iPhone to the AirPods when you put them in your ears.
- Microphone – three options include:
- Automatically Switch AirPods – uses either left or right based on which one the system senses will give you best quality
- Always Left AirPod
- Always Right AirPod
Get the Most Battery Life Using One at a Time
The user doesn’t need to use both AirPods at the same time. If they set the above microphone setting to Automatically Switch AirPods, they can then use either the left or the right AirPod. This will extend the length of time the user can go between charges. Use the right AirPod until it runs out of battery life. Then switch to the left AirPod. Put the right one back in the charging box to charge it back up to 100%. When the left one runs out, switch again to the right. You can essentially get all-day battery life following this method.
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