How to Connect and Control Your AirPods

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, then you’ve probably seen several people walking about with AirPods in their ears. When it comes to build design and quality, there’s hardly any company that can compete with Apple. Although the AirPods are not a perfect product, they have managed to stay fairly popular due to the superior user experience that they offer.

If you just recently bought into the hype, then you may be having some trouble to get the AirPods to work as they are designed to. How are they paired to your Apple device? What should you do to start and stop music playback?

Pairing the AirPods to your device

1. Connecting to an iOS device

The process of pairing the AirPods to any device running iOS 2.0 or higher is remarkably simple. First, make sure that your device is unlocked and is on the home page. You then hold the Airpods case right next to the device and open the lid. This should bring up a setup assistant on your Apple device automatically.

To proceed, simply click the Connect button that comes up on the setup assistant. The pairing process will begin. Once it’s finished, just click Done to confirm. Your AirPods have now been successfully paired with your Apple device.

A nifty after-effect of the pairing process is that the AirPods also get paired with any other Apple device connected to the iCloud using the same Apple ID. If you’re a huge fan of Apple and have an iPad and Apple Watch, then the good news is that these should already be paired with your AirPods.

2. Connecting another iOS device

What if you need to connect the AirPods to another device that isn’t the primary one that it was paired to? This is, of course, possible as with any other Bluetooth device. However, you will no longer be able to use the easy setup assistant.

Instead, you pair the AirPods the old-fashioned way. Again, you need to have the AirPods case placed right next to the device and open the lid. You then need to press and hold the Setup button located at the back of the AirPods case. This puts the AirPods in pairing mode, which you can confirm by checking if the status light of the case flashes white.

You then need to open your device’s settings and open the Bluetooth section. Active Bluetooth, at which point the device should scan for nearby devices. Once you see the ‘AirPods’ entry in the Other Devices section, simply click on the option to pair it with your device.

3. Connecting to an Android device

Despite the Apple branding, the AirPods can actually be paired with Android devices like any other Bluetooth earphones. Naturally, an Android device does not provide the convenience of a setup assistant that an Apple device does. However, pairing an Android device to the AirPods is not complicated at all. The process goes pretty much the same way that you would pair any standard Bluetooth earphones to your Android device.

To begin, make sure that the AirPods case is located near your Android device. Open the cap of the AirPods case and press and hold the Setup button located the back of the case. A white flashing light inside the AirPods case will confirm that you are now in pairing mode.

You then need to activate the Bluetooth of your Android device. To do this, simply go to the Settings of your device and open the Bluetooth section. Activate Bluetooth pairing and check the option to pair with the AirPods.

A word of warning: many users have reported that the sound quality, range, and connectivity of the AirPods suffer when it is used with an Android device. This is mostly because the H1 chip that the AirPods uses is optimized to work with iOS. This is quite disappointing but is hardly surprising.

Controlling the AirPods

The control scheme of the AirPods is unlike that of any other Bluetooth earphones in the market. There is no power button, no dedicated volume rocker, or even anything to press to stop or start your music. Instead, the AirPods rely heavily on the “double tap” gesture that they have been so well-known for. If you’re having trouble controlling your AirPods, then here’s our step-by-step guide.

1. Powering on the AirPods

To turn on the AirPods, simply remove them from the case. Putting them back in the case powers them off. There are no on and off buttons.

2. Connecting to your device

The AirPods will connect to a paired device as soon as you put them in your ears. To start playing music or a podcast, simply play it on your device. Take note that the AirPods can pair with an iPhone and an Apple Watch simultaneously. This is a great feature in case you want to listen to music while exercising, with the Apple Watch still able to provide prompts regarding your workout.

3. Activating Siri via double tap

The AirPods do not have any control mechanism save for one: the double tap. Double tapping your AirPods has a lot of useful functions:

  • Answer an incoming call
  • End an ongoing call
  • Switch to another call
  • Activate Siri

The ‘Activate Siri’ option is the one you’ll most likely end up using most of the time. Without any other physical controls, Siri is the only way for you to control your music playback or adjust the settings. The commands are pretty intuitive – saying “stop playing,” “increase the volume,” or “skip to the next song” can be heard loud and clear.

The Siri in your AirPods isn’t just a glorified music playback controller, though. You can use Siri in much the same way that you would use a personal assistant on your iPhone. You can ask Siri to set appointments, check the weather, or look for the nearest bus stop.

You can choose the left and right Airpod once you connect to them in Bluetooth settings and change the double tap feature to play or pause the music or skip 30 seconds forward.

4. Pausing audio playback

If someone comes up to you wanting to talk while you are wearing your AirPods, then pausing the playback is as simple as pulling one of them out of your ears. Your music will start playing again as soon as you put both AirPods in your ears again.

Charging the AirPods

1. Place the AirPods inside the case and close the lid

Doing so powers down the AirPods. The lid needs to be closed for the AirPods to charge.

2. Connect the Lightning cable to the AirPods case

The port for the Lightning cable is located at the bottom of the case. Simply plug the cable into the AirPods case and connect the other end to an AC adapter or a USB port.

Other tips

1. Don’t lose your AirPods case

The AirPods case isn’t just a case: it acts as the power switch, Bluetooth pairing switch, and a charging dock. Simply put, the AirPods are not usable without the case. If you have lost your AirPods case, then you’ll need to ask Apple for a replacement.

2. Customize your AirPods

While default controls and settings for the AirPods feel excellent once you get used to them, you can still change them up if they aren’t to your liking. To do this, simply navigate to your AirPods through the list of Bluetooth devices in your device. From here you can make a lot of changes:

  • Rename your AirPods
  • Turn off automatic ear detection
  • Change the controls for the double tap action

3. Use your AirPods while offline

The biggest limitation to relying on Siri for playback controls is that Siri isn’t available when you are not connected to the Internet. There are two ways that you can work around this situation. The first is to assign “Play/Pause” to the double tap action, as we have mentioned in the previous item.

The second option is to activate voice control on your iPhone or iPad. To do this, navigate to the Accessibility section under the Settings menu of your device. From this menu, you can either assign Voice Control to the Home button or the Side button. Of course, this means you’ll need to press a button to speak, so the experience isn’t seamless as having Siri onboard.

4. Use Google Assistant instead of Siri

If you are using the AirPods with an Android device, then you obviously don’t have the benefit of having Siri by your side. The good news is that there’s a worthy alternative: the Google Assistant. The AirPods allow you to call up Google Assistant with the double tap gesture. There isn’t much of a difference at this point – you can use the Google Assistant to control music playback, for instance.

Final thoughts

Much has been said about how the AirPods are overpriced, have poor sound quality, or look ridiculous, but it cannot be argued that it’s a very popular product. In terms of design, build quality, and ease of use, the AirPods is top-notch.

Due to its innovative controls, using the AirPods is a new experience for most people. We hope that our step-by-step guide covered the basics of how to use your brand new AirPods. How has your experience with the AirPods been? Sound off below!