AirPods Overview Updated March 19, 2021

Apple AirPods

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428 'AirPods' stories

October 2015 - January 2022

Apple’s truly wireless wireless and cord-free earbuds now with Qi support

AirPods 1 Features

AirPods are Apple’s wireless, cord-free in-ear headphones, and were unveiled alongside the iPhone 7 on September 7, 2016. Priced at $159 they were originally announced to be available in late October, 2016, but were delayed until December 13.

They have a very similar form-factor to the company’s wired EarPods, with the obvious omission of a cable and the addition of Bluetooth connectivity. Despite this, early reports suggest that they are better at staying in your ears.

They offer Apple’s latest wireless pairing system, based on the W1 chip. They pair instantly, and that pairing propagates across all your Apple devices via iCloud. The secret sauce behind the new pairing system turned out to be all in the W1 chip in the headphones themselves, so it works with Bluetooth LE devices all the way back to the iPhone 5.

AirPods 2 Features

In March of 2019, Apple released AirPods 2. The new version is available for $199 with the wireless charging case, or available with the standard case for $159. Existing version 1 owners can purchase the wireless charging case separately for $79.

Version 2 moved away from the W1 chip to the new H1 chip to deliver up to 50 percent more talk time compared to the first generation. The H1 should also speed up switching between devices, with Apple saying version 2 should now connect two times faster. Version 2 also includes ‘Hey Siri’ support as well.

AirPods Pro

In October 2019, Apple announced AirPods Pro. The Pro model features “Active Noise Cancellation and superior, immersive sound in an all-new lightweight, in-ear design.” The new in-ear design of the Pro model makes for better noise cancellation. Apple says that the Pro headphones are sweat and water-resistant rated for IPX4. The box includes three different sizes of ear tips, which should make them relatively versatile.

AirPods Pro vs. AirPods comparison

There are five major features that the Pro model has have that Version 2 don’t:

  • Active noise cancellation
  • Audio Transparency mode
  • IPX4 water/sweat resistance
  • Adaptive EQ
  • In-ear design with three sets of tips
How AirPods Pro and AirPods gen 2 compare

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Top Stories

Read below for all of our coverage

AirPods Stories January 27

The process of updating AirPods firmware is quite confusing, as there’s no manual way to download and install a new firmware, or even any indicators on the progress of the update. While this remains true, macOS 12.3 beta finally allows AirPods to be updated from a Mac.

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While most current Apple devices can verify your identity by fingerprint or face recognition, Apple is also considering adding biometric identification to future AirPods.

A patent application describes two potential ways that AirPods could confirm your identity before allowing access to sensitive data, like asking Siri to read your messages…

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AirPods Stories January 25

A newly-granted Apple patent suggests that the company may be planning to use optical audio transmission from AR/VR headsets to AirPods.

The patent could align with recent comments made by Apple’s head of acoustics about the limitations of Bluetooth bandwidth…

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How to clean your dirty AirPods and charging case

AirPods have been a huge hit for Apple with good sound, seamless integration with the company’s devices, and a great charging case. However, with a great product comes a lot of use, which in this case means the build-up of dirt, gunk, and yeah, earwax. Follow along for how to clean AirPods and the charging case.

AirPods Stories January 20

AirBuddy is a popular macOS app that enhances the experience of using AirPods and Beats headphones with a Mac. Created by developer and 9to5Mac contributor Guilherme Rambo, the app has now been updated to version 2.5 – which comes with Shortcuts integration, improved Magic Handoff, support for other headphones, and more.

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AirPods Stories January 19

A woman in New Jersey is crediting the ability to use Siri with her AirPods as saving her life after a fall. As reported by People, Susan Putman was working in her floral studio alone when she tripped and “hit her head on a sharp metal pole.” Had she not been wearing her AirPods, Putman says she believes she “would have died.”

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AirPods Stories January 6

AirPods originally launched back in 2016 and over the years, the lineup has grown to feature three distinct models. Particularly if you’ve had the original first-gen or second-gen AirPods for several years, they might be on the brink of death with the batteries wearing out. Let’s look at several options for what to do with old/dying AirPods beyond just paying Apple for replacements or buying a new pair.

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AirPods Stories January 5

LINE, the company behind the MacBook Pro battery/storage/I/O companion LINEDOCK (full review) is revealing some unique new products at CES today. LINESTAND is a fresh take on a multidevice MagSafe charger that offers a floating experience via VESA mount and LINECLOUD is looking to shake up the NAS market.

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Apple has started offering its back-to-school promotion for eligible students and staff in Australia. Like its recent education promos, this “Back to Uni” deal offers free or discounted AirPods when buying select Mac and iPad models along with 20% off AppleCare+.

Update: Apple’s promotion is showing up for more countries like Brazil, South Korea, and New Zealand.

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AirPods Pro: How to use noise cancellation and Transparency mode

Two of the most compelling AirPods Pro features are noise cancellation and Transparency mode. Read along as we detail three ways to switch between the modes, how to customize your Force Sensors, set up noise cancellation with one AirPod Pro, and more.

AirPods Stories January 4

How to clean your dirty AirPods Pro and charging case

AirPods Pro have a different form factor compared to AirPods that includes an in-ear design. With that comes new parts to keep clean, and you’ll likely see them become dirtier than AirPods since they’re worn inside your ears. Even after a short time, AirPods Pro can get gunked up. Read on for how to clean your AirPods Pro and charging case.

AirPods Stories January 3

A new Kuo report yesterday suggested that we can expect new AirPods with lossless audio support – more specifically, an AirPods Pro 2 model that allows users to listen to ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec).

This was given additional weight by Apple’s AirPods lead hinting to What HiFi that the company may have plans for achieving the wireless bandwidth needed for lossless audio. However, while I do think this is a likely development, I don’t think we should get too excited about it …

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AirPods Pro: How to use Ear Tip Fit Test and change tips

AirPods Pro include three different sets of ear tips for a customizable fit, and they also have a neat fit-test feature that uses the internal microphones to analyze whether you’ve picked the right ear tips. Read on for how to change AirPods Pro ear tips and run the Ear Tip Fit Test.

AirPods Stories December 30, 2021

Apple’s AirPods have been a runway success over the last several years, and the lineup now includes multiple different variations from which to choose.

In a new interview with What HiFi, Gary Geaves, Apple’s VP of Acoustics, and Eric Treski from the Product Marketing Team went in-depth on the technology behind AirPods, with an interesting focus on how Bluetooth can be a major bottleneck.

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AirPods Stories December 28, 2021

With a successful AirPods line, it’s only natural for users to wonder when Apple will release a new generation of the AirPods, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max. Head below as we round up the latest rumors on when expecting a new version of each of these products…

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AirPods Stories December 26, 2021

AirPods and AirPods Pro are some of the most popular Christmas gifts every year, and that was no different this year. Aggressive sales pricing and ample supply saw many people unwrap AirPods or AirPods Pro today. Here are some of the best tips, tricks, and features to get you started with your new AirPods.

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AirPods Stories December 14, 2021

Global AirPods shipments fell by a third in Q3, according to a new market intelligence report today. The figures for Apple include Beats products, but the greatest fall is likely to have been for AirPods, as consumers waited for the third-generation model.

However, Apple’s dominance of the true wireless stereo (TWS) headphones market is so great that no other brand came anywhere close to challenging the company’s lead …

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AirPods Stories December 10, 2021

Although Apple’s AirPods earphones often receive firmware updates, there’s no easy or intuitive way to update them. Now it seems that Apple has realized this, as the company has developed a tool to manually update AirPods’ firmware – but it’s not available to everyone.

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AirPods Stories December 7, 2021

How much can a product change in five years? Well, in tech years, this is more like a decade. AirPods, first announced alongside the iPhone 7, have gone through a few different variations over the years. Now, the publication Scan of the Month is offering us an in-depth look at how much Apple’s wireless earbuds have changed from AirPods 1 to the Pro model, and now to AirPods 3.

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AirPods Stories November 30, 2021

Apple device collector Giulio Zompetti has shared a new round of prototype images of Apple devices on Twitter. Most notably, Zompetti has shared images of prototype AirPods that features an intriguing translucent design.

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AirPods Stories November 26, 2021

One of the main draws of AirPods has always been their ability to essentially be invisible, both to the user and to people around them. When they were first introduced they had two features, the ability to play music and the ability to talk to Siri with a tap. But over the past five years, Apple has added new features both through hardware revisions and in software updates that have us wondering if AirPods deserve their own companion app on iPhone. Here’s what we think it should look like.

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AirPods Stories November 20, 2021

Poll: Would you ever consider switching back to Apple’s wired EarPods?

For over five years, Apple AirPods have been a success. Even though, more younger people are starting to wear the company’s wired EarPods again. Would you ever consider switching back to the old wired earbuds or AirPods are the best solution?

AirPods Stories November 19, 2021

When the Wall Street Journal published its post the other day declaring that wired EarPods were back in style, I wasn’t even remotely surprised. In fact, I’ve always thought it was inevitable that once AirPods were fully democratized, younger generations would find them to be uncool. We’ve seen it happen time and time again with other technologies, the most popular reference being to Facebook and its now much older demographic. So yes, wired earbuds are trendy again. But what does that mean for the industry and culture at large?

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AirPods Stories November 13, 2021

Just after its “Unleashed” event, Apple started selling the AirPods 3. With a new design and improved battery, do you think these wireless earbuds fit better or worse than the previous model?

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