The essential AirPod user guide for iPhones, Macs and Android

Yes, you can use AirPods with an Android device, if you must

Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, Android, AirPods

Available now after a few weeks delay, Apple’s AirPods are wireless earbuds that can do much more than any other wireless headphone system, bar those made by Apple. You can use them to listen to audio, ask Siri questions, get directions and more, and when you pair them to your iPhone, you’ll also be able to use them with any other supported Apple product. 

What are AirPods?

AirPods are Apple’s new wireless headphones. They use the company’s proprietary W1 chip, accelerometers and infrared sensors to detect when they are in your ears.

They will automatically play audio as soon as you put them in your ears. They also host a microphone for calls and that let you ask Siri questions with a double-tap.

AirPods are compatible with iPhone 5 or newer, Apple Watch, iPad mini 2 and iPad Air and newer and iPod touch 6.

How much do they cost?

$159. If you lose one, you can pick up a replacement for $99.

What about power?

The charging case is also a spare battery for your AirPods. Slide them into the case to charge them, and connect the case using a Lightning cable and USB charger. AirPods get up to five hours ofaudio playback or two hours of talk time on one charge.

Apple says: “If you charge your AirPods for 15 minutes in your case, you get up to 3 hours of listening time or over an hour of talk time.”

When fully charged the case will power up your AirPods multiple times, enough for 24 hours. You can check the charge status of the AirPods using the Batteries widget on your iPhone or using the volume Menu item on a paired Mac.

There is a charging indicator in the AirPod case. When the pods are in the case, the light shows you how much charge they have, and when the pods are removed, it displays the charge present in the case.

  • Green: Charged.
  • Amber: Less than one full charge remains.
  • White: AirPods are ready to set up.

How do I set up my AirPods?

Setup is easy. You need an iCloud account and a compatible device running the latest iOS. Unlock your iPhone and then open the charging case (with your AirPods inside) and hold it next to the phone (you may need to charge the AirPods first). A setup animation appears on the iPhone. Tap Connect and then Done. If you are logged into your iCloud account, the buds will now work with all your other devices. You can also set AirPods up as “normal” Bluetooth devices in the usual way.

AirPod head detection

Once paired, AirPods turn on automatically when removed from their case. They will play audio when you put them in your ears (their sensors can tell when this happens). Audio pauses if you remove one from your ear and stops when you remove them both.

AirPod users

You control AirPods using Siri, which you activate with a double tap on the outside of either bud. (You should tap the center of the widest part of the bud, approximately where its “stalk” meets the speaker). When activated, you can request things like:

  • “Play David Bowie’s Black Star
  • “Turn up the volume”
  • “How do I get to XXX from here?”
  • “Pause Music”
  • Or even, “How much battery power is left on the AirPods?”

How do I make and take calls?

  • Siri can announce calls as they come in. Double-tap to take the call.
  • When taking or making a call, you also double-tap to hang up or switch to another call.
  • You can use Siri to place calls, “Call Mum,” for example.

Can I use AirPods with an Android smartphone?

You can use AirPods with an Android smartphone, but only as a set of wireless headphones. The most sophisticated features won't work without Apple's advanced smartphone OS. You can also use them with any device that supports Bluetooth audio.

To pair them with other devices:

  • Open the lid of the case with the pods inside.
  • On the back of the case, you’ll find a small white button. Press and hold this until the light in the case glows white and begins to blink.
  • You can now pair the earbuds to your other device using standard Bluetooth setup.
  • You do not get the full features supported by these earbuds using any platform other than Apple's.

Where can I find the AirPod Settings?

You access AirPod Settings in Settings>Bluetooth on a paired iOS device.Tap the ‘I’ beside AirPods in the list of Bluetooth devices to access these.

In the next screen you can:

  • Disconnect the AirPods (to use them with another device)
  • Forget This Device (if you want to sell the buds or your iPhone, for example)
  • Name: Tap this section to give the AirPods a name to make them easier to identify.
  • Double Tap on AirPods: Here you can choose what double-tap achieves. By default (as referenced throughout this article), double-tap activates Siri, but this can be changed to just Play/Pause of music playback.
  • Automatic Ear Detection: When enabled (as it is by default), this will automatically figure out when you are wearing these things.
  • Microphone: Left, right or automatic. By default, you can use either AirPods as the mic (automatic), but you can change this if you want or need to.

How can I switch devices?

Once set up, to use AirPods with a different device you should select them as audio outputs on that device. So long as you are logged into the same iCloud account you should find them listed as alternative audio outputs in Control Center or the audio control on your Mac.

What happens when you run out of power in one bud?

If you are in the middle of a call and your AirPods begin to run out of power, you can remove one to charge it up in the case while continuing the conversation in the other – they will automatically detect what is happening. After 10 minutes you can swap them over.

Can I use them with Apple Watch?

Once paired with your iPhone, AirPods will work with your Apple Watch as well – sound switches between the devices, so you can choose what to play using either of them.

How tough are they?

AirPods appear to be pretty tough. A variety of different tests show they can handle sweat, or even a full washing machine cycle. They can also endure a 10-foot drop. They are tough to recycle, meaning Apple will need to handle them at EOL.

What is inside AirPods?

To find out what is inside the AirPods take a look at the latest iFixIt teardown. This tells us that components inside these are made by: Apple, Cypress, Maxim, Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, and NXP.

What are the critics saying?

The reviewers like AirPods, though a small number want to see Siri and Bluetooth audio improvements. Some are calling them the “future of wireless audio,” while TechPinions author and Creative Strategies analyst, Ben Bajarin, states: “Both the Apple Watch and AirPods are key engineering milestones to build on for where I believe Apple is headed in the future.”

What is Jonny Evans saying?

I believe AirPods are an important step toward the post-smartphone age. I can imagine them becoming a standard element to future mobile user interfaces.

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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