6 hidden tips and tricks for AirPods

By | May 1, 2023

AirPods integrate seamlessly with your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac. They’re simple and almost magical to use, but if you want to get more out of them, you need to dig into Settings.

No. 1: Share audio between two pairs of AirPods

You want to listen to a song or watch a video with a close friend, so you each grab a headset and press play. Who hasn’t done this?

But if your friend has their own pair of AirPods (or newer Beats headphones), you can play music on both at the same time.

To take advantage of this great AirPods audio sharing feature, first press the AirPlay button. Then tap Share Audio, make sure your friends’ headphones are nearby, and tap Share Audio. Your friend may need to tap Join on their iPhone. Then just check the other device on the list. Uncheck to stop.

You can also set different volume levels for your own AirPods. Open Control Center and touch and hold the volume slider. You’ll see it expand to two sliders that you can customize.

* Works with AirPods (all models and versions), Beats Fit Pro, Beats Flex, Beats Solo Pro, Beats Solo³ Wireless, Beats Studio³ Wireless, BeatsX, Powerbeats, Powerbeats Pro and Powerbeats³ Wireless.

No. 2: Spy on a conversation with Live Listen

Apple’s Live Listen feature uses the microphone on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch as the audio source, then streams the audio to your AirPods. If you are hard of hearing or in a noisy meeting, you can start a conversation more easily.

But AirPods really do have a long range. This means you can leave your phone on a coffee table or shelf where people are talking and sit in the next room to listen to their conversation. Of course, you should always use this feature for good, not evil.

To use Live Listen, first go to Settings > Control Center and scroll down to tap + Listen. This adds hearing accessibility controls to your iPhone’s Control Center.

With your AirPods paired, just press that button and tap Live Listen to get started.

No. 3: Create a custom transparency function

If you have a compatible pair of headphones, you can create a custom setup tailored to your hearing.

You may be missing the upper or lower end of the audio spectrum, so if you adjust earphone fittings, music, movies, phone calls, and podcasts [θα] they sound clearer.

Go to Settings > Accessibility > Sound/Visual > Headphone aids and turn it on.

It has options to optimize balance, voice, and brightness. The slider will adjust the dynamics with which you want to boost the sound.

Scroll down to set whether you want it to adjust sound for phone calls, media playback, or both.

But it doesn’t end there. You can use an app like Mimi to take a hearing test, connect it to Apple Health, and use your audiogram to fit your ears.

No. 4: Customize the controls of your AirPods

On newer AirPods, you can press the stem to access various controls: click to play/pause, hold to turn noise cancellation on or off. On older AirPods, this is done by touching the earbuds.

But you can change what these actions do. You can even assign different controls for the left and right AirPods.

To tweak AirPods controls, first make sure your headphones are connected to your iPhone. Next, open Settings > AirPods. In the left or right area, you can choose a few different actions: Noise Control (on some models), Siri, Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, or Off if you don’t want to use this feature. Personally, I use the left AirPod for Siri and the right for audio controls.

#5: Check Apple Watch noise cancellation

If you have AirPods Pro, you may know that you can toggle between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency by long-pressing the stem on an AirPod or in Control Center on your iPhone.

But you can also do it from your Apple Watch. From the Now Playing screen on your watch, tap the AirPlay icon in the bottom left corner and choose from the menu (Off, Noise Cancellation, or Transparency). Doing it visually like this is sometimes easier than blindly clicking the button on your AirPods.

No. 6: Announcement of calls and messages

Similarly, you can have your AirPods announce who’s calling or read your text messages so you don’t have to look at your iPhone or Apple Watch.

Go to Settings > Phone > Call notification and set it to Headphones only. Then go to Settings > Notifications > Push Notifications and turn it on.

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