Complete Guide to Apple’s AirPods

The AirPods are Apple's wireless earbuds, an advanced device that allows you to listen to music, stream videos and movies, converse during calls, and use the Siri voice assistant by connecting the headphones to your device without using a cable. Apple has recently launched the new version of the wireless earbuds, the AirPods 2, even more efficient and equipped with a modern case, which allow you to charge them wirelessly, to have them ready at any time of the day.

Airpods: versions, features and technical requirements

Released on the market for the first time in 2016, the AirPods are Apple's wireless headphones, compatible with any device from the Cupertino company, such as iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Since their launch, they have been a huge success among the public, as they allow you to listen to music, watch TV series and streaming movies without using the annoying cords, which inexorably end up getting caught on your clothes and making it difficult to move.

The AirPods have a modern and technological design, are quite comfortable to wear and are equipped with special chips for mobile connectivity, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with integrations for Apple's voice assistant Siri, optical sensors and accelerometers for voice detection. From 2016 to 2019, two versions of the AirPods were made, the original one and the latest evolved model, AirPods 2, present in Apple's official stores at a price of 229€.

The technical features of the AirPods 2 are a weight of just 4 grams per earbud, wireless and Bluetooth connection, a size of 40.5 mm in length, delivery with a case included in the price and wireless charging system, with 24 hours of battery life in listening mode, or up to 18 hours in conversation mode. Inside are two optical sensors, two beamforming microphones, a motion accelerometer and a voice accelerometer.

System requirements are iOS from version 12.2 onwards, Mac OS from 10.14.4 and watchOS from 5.2 onwards. For example, the AirPods 2 are compatible with iPhone XS, XR, X, 8, 7, 6, SE and 5S, third-generation iPad Air and the fifth version of iPad mini, MacBook Air 11 and 13 inches, iMac 21.5 and 27 inches, iMac Pro and Mac mini, including sixth-generation iPod Touch. You can also connect and use AirPods with Apple TV HD and 4K, or Apple Watch series 1 through 4.

How AirPods Work

Before purchasing AirPods, you should check compatibility with your devices. If the second generation requires recent devices, as shown in the previous paragraph, the first version can be connected with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch with iOS 10 or later operating system, Apple Watch with at least watchOS 3, Apple TV equipped with tvOS 11 or higher system, or Mac with macOS Sierra.

Having checked the compatibility you can move on to configure the AirPods, which the first time requires performing a precise procedure. To activate Apple's wireless headphones you have to take your iPhone, unlock the screen, take the AirPods and hold them close to the device, until you see a screen with the image of the headphones. Finally, just tap on Connect, immediately performing the Siri configuration, to connect the AirPods to Apple's voice assistant.

After activation, the headphones are ready, so you can put them on and start using them right away. For example, you can listen to music by starting playback of songs from Apple Music or iTunes, manage Siri from the headphones, make and receive calls, stream videos and movies, or start a live social conversation via the AirPods, to keep both hands free to avoid any clutter.

Using your Apple device, such as a compatible iPhone, you can name the AirPods, change the double-tap mode, use it to answer phone calls, activate the Siri voice assistant and manage key features of the wireless headphones. When worn, AirPods work in automatic mode, but you can change these settings from your iPhone, such as turning off automatic ear detection, or playing audio on a single earbud.

How to connect AirPods to Android devices and Windows PCs

The AirPods can also be used with Android devices, smartphones and tablets, or PCs running Windows operating systems. Obviously, you can't use Siri voice commands, but you can manage calls, listen to music and stream movies with the earbuds. To connect the AirPods with Android devices, you just need to go into the settings of your device, activate the Bluetooth connection and move the switch to ON.

Then you need to turn on the Apple headphones, by holding down the button on the back of the AirPods case, until it shows a flashing white light. In fact, you need to check the automatic detection of the device in your smartphone, by checking in the Associated Devices section. The same operation can be performed on PCs with Windows 10 operating system, by going into the settings and clicking on Devices, Bluetooth, Other devices and activating the Bluetooth connection.

How to connect AirPods to Apple TV

The AirPods can also be used with Apple TV, connecting the earbuds to the Cupertino company's Smart TV, as long as you have a fourth-generation device, with operating system tvOS11 or later versions. To make the connection between AirPods and Apple TV, simply go into the TV's system settings, using the remote control, by selecting the gear symbol, opt for the item Remote Controls and Devices, Bluetooth, turn on the earbuds and wait for the automatic detection.

How to manage the volume of AirPods

The AirPods are extremely simple devices to use, in fact once you put them in your ears you can make various settings and adjustments, without using the device connected to them. For example, to increase and decrease the volume of the AirPods you can use Siri, using voice commands to adjust the sound of the headphones. To do this you need to go into the settings of the iPhone, or any other Apple device, activate the Bluetooth connection and select the right and left AirPods.

Finished this simple operation you can increase or decrease the volume with your voice, using the voice command Hey Siri lowers the volume by 50%, obviously choosing the desired percentage. Alternatively, you can adjust the volume of the AirPods from the iPhone, you need to enter the settings by dragging the screen from top to bottom, select the sound icon, tap on the AirPods symbol and manually increase or decrease the volume.

How to use Siri voice commands with AirPods

To use AirPods just set them up, connect them to your device and use double-tap to answer calls, listen and pause music, hear podcasts and more. At the same time, to get the most out of the earbuds, you need to take advantage of the integration with Siri, Apple's voice assistant, to control the AirPods' features directly with your voice. For example, just say commands such as Hey Siri call XXX, Hey Siri turn up the volume, Hey Siri put on music XXX, or Hey Siri how to get to XXX.

The intelligent assistant will promptly perform all these operations, so you don't need to do anything else, a simple and convenient way to save time, especially useful when you are busy with other activities and while driving. Although Siri is more efficient in English, the Italian version is also making important steps forward, becoming more and more reliable. This allows you to use new voice commands, such as asking you to skip to the next song on your playlist, move forward 25 seconds, or reduce the volume by 20%.

How to charge the AirPods

One of the most interesting features of the AirPods is the wireless charging system, located inside the headphone case, which allows you to greatly increase the battery life of the earbuds. To charge the AirPods, simply place them in the case, a solution that allows you to always have them ready for use by recharging them when not in use, to avoid running out of battery if you were away from power outlets.

To charge the AirPods case instead, you must use the supplied cable, Lightning, to connect to an Apple-compatible adapter and the outer casing of the earphones. The operation can be performed both with the AirPods inside and only with the case. The latter is compatible with wireless charging systems, so you can restore the charge either with the Lightning cable or in IQ mode, using an original Apple support, placing the case on the base with the indicator light at the top.

To increase the duration of charging AirPods is important to always put them back in the case, avoiding to keep them on when not needed, also should not open and close the container too often, otherwise the autonomy decreases significantly. To check the state of charge just use your device, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, keeping the case close to the device to see the percentage of charge on the display. From the Mac, click on the main menu, placing the mouse over the AirPods.

Visually, the indicator light shows the remaining battery life, assuming a green color when they are fully charged, or yellow if there is less than one charge left, so 5 hours of listening and 3 of conversation. If, on the other hand, the yellow light flashes, it means that a new headset configuration is required. It should be noted that with only 15 minutes of charging in the case, the AirPods offer up to 3 hours of battery life in listen mode and 2 hours in talk mode.

How to reset AirPods

In some cases the AirPods may show a noticeable drop in performance, losing much of their initial battery life, despite performing recharges as explained by Apple. A good solution in these situations is a complete reset of the earbuds, a simple and fast operation that sometimes allows you to solve the problem, regaining the original performance of the wireless headphones from Apple.

To reset the AirPods just press and hold the button on the case, after inserting the earbuds into them, for at least 10-15 seconds until the indicator light shows a flashing orange color. Then you need to set up your AirPods again and test them for battery life after a full charge. Sometimes the performance loss experienced by some users has been as high as 5%, which is a noticeable loss of charge especially when using them for phone conversations.

How to clean AirPods

The AirPods are particularly delicate devices, yet as they are in contact with your ears they need to be cleaned regularly, otherwise they may accumulate dirt and become unhygienic. To clean AirPods, use a dry, preferably soft cloth with no rough surfaces or foreign matter, which may scratch the lining of the earbuds and ruin them. It is important not to use water or cleaning products, as liquids may get inside the AirPods and cause them to malfunction.

A suitable solution is the classic cotton pads, which allow you to clean both the outside of the AirPods and the small metal mesh of the microphone and sensors, without damaging them. For the case instead it is advisable to use a microfiber cloth, moistening it with a small dose of isopropyl alcohol, avoiding with extreme care to wet the openings and charging ports. Also do not use rough surfaces, aggressive detergents and always disconnect the device from any power source.

Naturally, AirPods often come into contact with sweat and other natural body fluids, especially when used for sports activities or on hot days. To prevent damage to the earbuds, it's essential to remove them immediately after a workout, dry them with a dry cloth, and wait until they've completely dried in the air, without using appliances such as hair dryers or other such devices.