Owners of Apple’s AirPods wireless earbuds appreciate how well they stay in their ears and the ease of connecting them to Apple devices. Making them play music for the first time is as easy as setting them next to your iPhone and tapping Connect, sticking them in your ears, and pressing Play in your audio app. Want them to connect to another of your Apple devices? No problem! Any of your devices that are signed in to your iCloud account will recognize the AirPods as possible output devices automatically.
But the AirPods are more than just simple earbuds. They’re smart enough to pause playback when you take one out of your ear, and to restart when you put the AirPod back in. Plus, when they’re in your ears, you can double-tap one to talk to Siri or control playback.
The double-tap options for controlling playback are basic but useful: you can play or pause audio, or go back or forward one track.
Siri is more interesting, since you can issue voice commands through the AirPods’ microphones for playback: “Skip to the next song,” “Play Yo-Yo Ma,” “Turn it down,” and so on. In fact, you can speak commands for anything Siri can do. You’ll hear Siri’s chime and response in your ears, so if you’re making a reminder or asking for a weather report, you won’t even need to look at a screen. For something more complex like a Web search, you will need to view the screen to see the result of your query. You can also ask Siri “How is the battery on my AirPods?”
You can configure each AirPod with its own double-tap function. To view and change those settings, put the AirPods in their case, open the case, and put it near your iPhone. Then go to Settings > Bluetooth and tap the i next to your AirPods in the list of devices. On the AirPods screen, in the “Double-Tap on AirPod” section, you see a switch for each AirPod. Tap one to choose what will happen when you double-tap that AirPod. Choices include Siri, Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, and Off (which does nothing).
We recommend that you set one AirPod to Siri and the other to your most-used playback control. If you work out with just one AirPod in (so your other ear can hear people or traffic), set that one to Siri, since Siri can control playback too.
If a phone call comes in on your iPhone (or cellular-enabled Apple Watch Series 3) while you’re wearing your AirPods, you’ll hear the ring in your ears. To answer, double-tap on either AirPod. If you’d like to know who it is before picking up, go to Settings > Phone > Announce Calls and select any option except for Never. And, of course, you can always ask Siri to make outgoing calls.
Lost an AirPod? As long as you’ve turned on Find My iPhone/iPad with the iOS device you’re using with your AirPods (and please do, since it makes that device useless to a thief!), Apple can help. Fire up the Find My iPhone iOS app or visit Find My iPhone on the iCloud.com Web site. Select your AirPods in the list of devices and then look for a green or gray dot on the map. Green means your AirPods are online! Click the Play Sound button to make them play a chirping noise if they’re nearby. A gray dot means your AirPods are off, in their case, or out of range. The dot shows their last known location.
The AirPods are so easy to configure that it’s easy to miss all the special features that Apple provides. Take a few minutes to explore their capabilities and you’ll probably like them even more.