Since their debut, one of the biggest selling points of AirPods has been their simplicity and ease of use. Open the case with your iPhone and a card will appear, tap Connect, and you’re ready to listen. Take them out of the case and in your ears and you’re ready to answer calls, listen to music and watch videos. Remove a plug from your ear and the music will automatically pause.
But the fact that they are so easy to use means that millions of AirPods owners are probably unaware of some of their more advanced features and settings. They may never have thought of even looking for them! Here are five features you may have known your AirPods could do. (And most of these also work on Beats Fit Pro and Powerbeats Pro, or other Beats products with Apple’s H1 chip in them.)
Receive important notifications without looking
With iOS 13, Apple made it possible for Siri to read incoming messages directly to your AirPods, so you didn’t have to take your phone out of your pocket at the gym or on a run. With iOS 15, that’s expanded to announce notificationsincluding Messages, Calls, Reminders and supported third-party apps.
Open Settings, tap notificationsand then tap Announce Notifications† Here you can turn the feature on and off, but you’ll also see a list of apps that let you announce notifications and turn them on or off individually.
For messages, Siri listens to a reply after reading your notification, and you can reply without saying “Hey Siri” first. Just wait for the message to be read and say something like “Tell her I’ll be there at 5” or “Reply I’m a little late” or whatever. Siri reads back your response before asking if you want to send it.
Share what you listen
You and a friend can listen to the audio from a single iPhone at the same time, each with your own volume control. Provided you both have AirPods or supported Beats earbuds, at least.
To do this, open Control Center on the iPhone you want to share audio from (swipe down from the top right corner of your screen). In the audio controls, you’ll see an AirPlay button (the triangle with circles coming out of it). You can also find it in the playback controls on your lock screen. Tap the AirPlay button and you will see a list of audio devices with an option to Share audio At the bottom. Tap it and your friend will have to hold their AirPods close to your iPhone with the buttons in their case, similar to what you do when you first pair them.
You will see your friends’ AirPods appear on your screen with a Share audio knob. Touch that. You should now both be listening to audio from the same iPhone. Tap that AirPlay button again to see the volume sliders for both sets of AirPods, which you can adjust individually. To stop sharing, tap the checkmark next to the AirPods you want to stop sharing with.
Change what the taps do
Double tapping your AirPods will play audio by default (or forward if it’s already playing). If you have first-generation AirPods, Siri will be called. With AirPods Pro, pressing the power sensor on the stem will play/pause, a double press will skip forward, a triple press will skip back, and holding it down will change the noise canceling settings.
You can adjust all of these behaviors. (However, you can not change the behavior of the power sensor on the stem of 3rd generation AirPods.) Open Settings, then tap Bluetooth† Then tap the small (i) button next to your AirPods or AirPods Pro.
Here you will find settings to change the hold behavior on your AirPods Pro (but unfortunately not the tap behavior). If you have regular AirPods, you can change what the double-tap function does, and you can change it independently for the left and right ear, allowing you to enable two different double-tap functions.
Boost your conversations
This one is only for those with AirPods Pro – it’s not available on any other AirPods or Beats products.
Conversation Boost is an accessibility setting that focuses on the sound in the spoken voice frequency range only right in front of you, making it easier to hear the person you’re talking to, without amplifying the rest of the audio around you. This is one of those settings that is extremely useful, but is so deeply hidden in the settings menus that most people won’t find it.
Open Settings, then Accessibilitythen Audiovisualthen Headphone Accommodations†
Scroll down and tap Transparency modeand then turn on Custom Transparency Mode† Here you’ll find a ton of settings to adjust Transparency Mode on your AirPods Pro, including a toggle for Conversation Boost.
Automatic switching between devices
If you’re signed in to your Mac, iPhone, Apple TV, or iPad with the same Apple ID (and two-factor authentication is enabled), they’ll switch from one device to another by default. Stop playing audio on your iPhone, start playing on your Mac, and your AirPods will play the audio from your Mac.
You may get a notification on your Mac; just click Connect to confirm that you want to use your AirPods.
However, you may want to disable this feature. First, make sure your AirPods are connected to your iPhone and in your ears. Then open Settings > Bluetooth and tap the (i) button next to your AirPods.
Tap Connect to this iPhone and then you can switch between automatically or When last connected to this iPhone†
Make sure your AirPods are connected to your Mac and in your ears, then open System Preferences and click Bluetooth† In the Connect to this Mac menu, choose between automatically or When last connected to this Mac†