New AirPods case of­fers wire­less charg­ing

Mac­world staff ex­plain how to set up your AirPods, con­trol your mu­sic with Siri, plus what hap­pens if you lose one

Macworld - - Feature -

Launched last year, Ap­ple’s AirPods have been a suc­cess for the firm. Priced £159 they are avail­able at Here’s what Ap­ple CEO Tim Cook said about the AirPods dur­ing the com­pany’s third quar­ter 2017 fi­nan­cial re­sults call with an­a­lysts in Au­gust: “We’re also see­ing in­cred­i­ble en­thu­si­asm for AirPods, with 98 per­cent cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion based on Cre­ative Strate­gies’ sur­vey. We have in­creased pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity for AirPods and are work­ing very hard to get them to cus­tomers

as quickly as we can, but we are still not able to meet the strong level of de­mand.”

Over the fol­low­ing pages we re­veal how to set up AirPods, use them to con­trol your mu­sic, and more.

Pair your AirPods to an iPhone and Ap­ple Watch

Pair­ing your AirPods to an iPhone or iPad for the first time is ridicu­lously easy. If your de­vice is run­ning iOS 10, all you have to do is flip open the lid of the AirPods’ charg­ing case, and you’ll see a mes­sage on your nearby iPhone ask­ing if you want to con­nect. (If your phone is locked, you have to un­lock it first and then tap the Con­nect but­ton. And if noth­ing hap­pens at all, check your iPhone to make sure Blue­tooth is turned on.

That’s it, you’re done. Your AirPods will stay paired to this iPhone – and a paired Ap­ple Watch, if you have one of those too. If you start play­ing a song on your iPhone, and then you start an­other song play­ing on your Ap­ple Watch, the AirPods will switch to the Ap­ple Watch.

Pair your AirPods with a Mac

If you’ve al­ready paired the AirPods to your iPhone, and it’s signed into the same iCloud ac­count as your Mac (run­ning macOS 10.12 Sierra), you don’t have to go through the pair­ing process again. Just click the Blue­tooth icon in your Mac’s menu bar and you’ll see the AirPods there.

Mouse down over them and click the word Con­nect when it comes up. Or you can Alt-click the

vol­ume icon in the menu bar (Sys­tem Pref­er­ences > Sound > Show vol­ume in menu bar if you don’t see it al­ready) and choose AirPods as your Mac’s out­put de­vice.

Pair your AirPods to any­thing else

What if you want to use the AirPods with an An­droid phone, or a Kin­dle Fire tablet, or even an Ap­ple de­vice that isn’t run­ning the lat­est and great­est op­er­at­ing sys­tem? You can. The AirPods don’t have a pair­ing but­ton on them, but the charg­ing case does. Stick the AirPods in the charg­ing case, and then look for a round, white, barely vis­i­ble but­ton on the back of the case.

With the case’s lid open, press and hold that but­ton, and you’ll see the teeny-tiny LED in­side the case turn white. That means the AirPods are in pair­ing mode, so you should be able to use the

menus on the de­vice you’re try­ing to pair with to get them con­nected.

Check the AirPods bat­tery

There are a cou­ple of ways to check the bat­tery level. You can ask Siri, by dou­ble-tap­ping ei­ther AirPod, and then ask­ing, “What’s my bat­tery level?” when you hear the Siri chime. Siri will tell you if any of your de­vices – iPhone, Ap­ple Watch, and AirPods – is run­ning low on bat­tery. If both AirPods are in the charg­ing case, you can flip open its lid and you’ll see a pop-up on your paired iPhone that dis­plays the bat­tery life of each AirPod, plus the case.

You can also check on your iPhone it­self, with the bat­tery wid­get in No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­tre’s To­day view. (You get to No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­tre by swip­ing down from any page, or swip­ing right from your home screen. If the Bat­ter­ies wid­get isn’t ac­tive, scroll to the bot­tom of No­ti­fi­ca­tion Cen­tre’s To­day view and tap Edit to add it.)

Or, swipe up from any page to bring up the Con­trol Cen­tre, and swipe to the pane that shows your Mu­sic app. If your AirPods are con­nected, you’ll see “Now Play­ing on [Name’s] AirPods” at the bot­tom of this pane. Tap the down­ward-fac­ing ar­row next to that, as if you were go­ing to change the play­back de­vice to your iPhone’s speak­ers, and you’ll see how much bat­tery each AirPod has left.

In­voke Siri

The de­fault way to in­voke Siri is to dou­ble-tap on ei­ther AirPod with your fin­ger. If you hate Siri,

though, you can change the dou­ble-tap be­hav­iour in Set­tings.

Start in Set­tings > Blue­tooth, and then tap the lower-case i icon next to your AirPods in the list of Blue­tooth de­vices. On the next page, in the sec­tion la­belled Dou­ble-tap on AirPods, you can choose Siri, Play/Pause, or Off.

Con­trol play­back and vol­ume

You can take one AirPod out of your ear to pause the mu­sic, and then stick it back in your ear to start it play­ing again.

As­sum­ing you keep the de­fault be­hav­iour to dou­ble-tap an AirPod to talk to Siri, you’ll need to use Siri for the rest of your play­back tasks. Here are a few com­mands you can use, and these work whether you’re lis­ten­ing to the Mu­sic app, or an­other app like Spo­tify. Turn it up Turn it down Skip this song

If you are lis­ten­ing to the Mu­sic app, you can ask for spe­cific songs, al­bums, artists, and playlists (in your li­brary if you aren’t an Ap­ple Mu­sic sub­scriber, or across the whole Ap­ple Mu­sic ser­vice if you are), and you get more com­mands. Start this song over Rewind Play more like this Add this to my col­lec­tion Shuf­fle on

Ob­vi­ously, us­ing Siri to con­trol play­back has some lag. First you have to dou­ble-tap the AirPod and wait for the chime that lets you know Siri is lis­ten­ing. Then you have to speak your query and wait for the iPhone to parse it.

It’s a lot less con­ve­nient than, say, the Beats Solo3 or other wire­less head­phones that put more con­trols right on the head­phones them­selves. But the AirPods are a lot smaller, so it makes

sense that they wouldn’t have but­tons. Ap­ple could per­haps add sup­port for a sec­ond ges­ture (say, a triple-tap to join the dou­ble-tap), but what is here is a good start.

Charge the AirPods and their case

The AirPods will last about five hours per charge, ac­cord­ing to Ap­ple. The case holds a bat­tery too, and you stick the AirPods back in the case to charge them. The lit­tle light in­side the case glows orange when the AirPods are charg­ing, and mag­nets keep them snug in the charg­ing case, even if you turn it all the way up­side down. Each AirPod fits ex­actly in one of the two open­ings, so as long as they’re in there and you can close the lid, they should be prop­erly seated for charg­ing.

With the orig­i­nal case, just con­nect a Light­ning ca­ble to the port on the bot­tom. Then con­nect the other end to an AC power adap­tor or a USB port on a Mac.

In Septem­ber, Ap­ple re­vealed a new AirPods case that works with Ap­ple’s new AirPower charg­ing pad. To charge the new wire­less case, you place it on the AirPower. If your AirPods are in the case, you’ll see an orange light if they’re charg­ing, or a green light when they’re nearly fully charged. If no AirPods are in the case, the light still goes on when you open the lid, but it in­di­cates how much bat­tery life is left in the case it­self: orange for needs charg­ing and green for good life left.

At the time of writ­ing, Ap­ple had not re­leased pric­ing for the new wire­less case, nor has the com­pany said that it will re­place the orig­i­nal case with the new one with a new pair of AirPods. The wire­less case will be avail­able in 2018.

Will they stay in your ears?

They’re stay­ing in our ears just fine. Se­ri­ously, check out our video at I head­bang, jog in place, and per­form a pretty wild shadow box­ing kind of a dance, and they didn’t bud­get at all. Mac­world’s Caitlin McGarry found that the AirPods stay in place dur­ing tough work­outs.

To com­pare, we’ve been wear­ing the free EarPods that Ap­ple in­cludes with an iPhone, and those don’t stay so firmly in place as the AirPods do. The EarPods are a lit­tle lighter, and we do tend

to catch the ca­ble on some­thing pretty fre­quently, say, a few times a week), whether snag­ging them on a door­knob or the arm­rest of a chair, or hav­ing to ad­just the ca­bles un­der a scarf or hoodie so they don’t tug the EarPods out of my ears. The wire-free AirPods, on the other hand, just perch in out ears per­fectly, and don’t move when we do.

What to do if you lose one

You’ll be pretty sad. But it’s not the end of the world. Ap­ple has con­firmed that it will sell re­place­ment AirPods through what it calls “nor­mal ser­vice chan­nels”, mean­ing Ap­ple stores and au­tho­rized ser­vice techs. The prices are out­lined in this ser­vice doc­u­ment, but a lost AirPod will cost £69 to re­place, and a lost charg­ing case is £69 as well.

How to lo­cate your AirPods

There’s an app for that. Re­ally. The Find My iPhone app can lo­cate your AirPods. But in or­der for the app to work, your AirPods have to be pow­ered on and con­nected to your iPhone. If your AirPods aren’t on, or they’re out of range, Find My iPhone won’t be much help.

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