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      Apple AirPods: The very best tips and tricks for your new wireless headphones

      Your AirPods can do so much more than let you listen to music.

      airpods

      Apple's AirPods with wireless charging case.

      Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Apple released two new models of AirPods this year, the聽second-generation AirPods made their debut in March, followed by聽AirPods Pro in October. Both new models feature always-on Hey Siri recognition, 5-hour battery life and a charging case that works with the same wireless charging pads iPhones do.

      The AirPods Pro have a new design, noise cancellation and a cool new transparency feature so you can listen to music and still hear what's going on around you. There are a聽handful of tips specifically for AirPods Pro, but there's also a lot of overlap between the regular AirPods and the Pro version.

      AirPods can do more than just stream music into your ears, so make sure to read through the tips below to learn how to take advantage of your completely wireless earbuds.

      Read more:Best AirPods accessories

      Now playing: Watch this: AirPods Pro first impressions: Should you upgrade?
      8:18

      Pairing is a breeze

      The pairing process for the AirPods takes three seconds -- literally. Open the charging case, wait for the prompt on your phone, tap Connect and you're done. You don't have to worry about repeating these steps on the rest of your Apple devices as long as you use the same iCloud account. Yes, that means after you pair your AirPods to your iPhone, your AirPods are automagically paired to your Apple Watch, iPad, Mac or Apple TV. It's pretty cool.

      Seriously, pairing your AirPods is too easy.

      Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Yes, you can pair them with non-Apple products

      Notice that small, flush button on the back of the charging case? That's what you'll use to pair AirPods to an Android device or anything else that doesn't work with Apple's proprietary chips.

      To start pairing to anything new, put the AirPods in their case, then flip the lid up and press and hold the small button on the rear of the charging case until the little LED light starts pulsing white. They should then show up in any Bluetooth-pairing settings on an Android phone, or computer, or TV. Complete instructions can be found here.

      Keep in mind that when you're paired with a non-Apple product, they lose some of their magic. Taking an AirPod out of your ear won't pause music, and playback controls won't work either. Android users can install this app for checking AirPods battery level.

      To go back to using AirPods with your iPhone, just reselect "AirPods" from your iPhone's Bluetooth settings and they'll re-pair.

      Now playing: Watch this: AirPods 2nd-generation: Not really 2.0, but definitely...
      3:55

      To save battery life, keep one in and keep swapping buds

      I've never run out of AirPod battery life in a single day, but if you're a power user making lots of phone calls, you might find them running low. One AirPod can work on its own as a Bluetooth headset. Keep the other in the case to charge, and then swap as needed. The other bud takes over seamlessly.

      Listen to stereo streaming with one bud

      If you want to listen to a livestream while doing other things casually, pop a single bud in while the other is in the case. It'll pump a stereo signal into one bud. Otherwise, with both AirPods out, it'll only get one ear's worth of stereo.

      The various screens of battery life of AirPods on the iPhone.

      Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Check the battery using your iPhone

      You have a couple of options when it comes to checking the battery status of your AirPods and the charging case.

      You can either open the charging case next to your iPhone (it works on iPad and iPod touch, as well), which should prompt your phone to display a popup with battery status. Or, you can add the battery widget to Notification Center's Today panel using the instructions in this post. Keep in mind, the Battery widget will only include AirPods if you are actively using them.

      View AirPods' battery life on an Apple Watch.聽

      Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Check the battery status on an Apple Watch

      If you own an Apple Watch, here's a cool trick: Place your open AirPods case next to your watch, then open Control Center and tap the battery option. In addition to displaying battery stats for your watch, you will also find stats for your AirPods and the case.

      Hey, Siri!

      The second-gen AirPods and AirPods Pro will recognize the Hey Siri wake command. So if you've got the AirPods in and your iPhone in another room, you can say "Hey, Siri" and control volume or music playback, ask for a message to be sent or any of the other commands you can give to Siri. If you're using your AirPods with an Apple Watch, Hey Siri still works as long your watch has a data connection.

      After saying "Hey, Siri," the volume of whatever you're listening to will lower, indicating Siri is listening and ready for your command.

      Have Siri read your messages to you

      With iOS 13.2 installed on your iPhone or iPad,聽Siri can read your incoming messages directly to you聽through your AirPods without you having to do a thing. You can then reply to the message with a quick voice command. It's pretty cool.

      change-name-airpods

      Rename your AirPods on iOS.

      Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Change your AirPods' name

      There's no dedicated app for altering settings and customizing your AirPods. Instead, you'll need to do it through your Bluetooth settings.

      With your AirPods connected to your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth. Then tap on the "i" icon next to your AirPods' name. Next, tap on the Name field and enter your preferred name. The new name will sync to the rest of your iCloud-linked devices.

      change-airpod-functionality

      Assign tap interactions to each AirPod.

      Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Customize controls

      While viewing your AirPods' settings, you can also change the double-tap or press-and-hold function for either earbud. Once again, with your AirPods connected to your iPhone or iPad, go to聽Settings聽>聽Bluetooth. Then tap on the "i" icon next to your AirPods' name. Tap on Left or Right to alter the functionality of each AirPod, or disable any interaction at all.

      live-listen-airpods

      Use AirPods as a hearing aid with iOS 12.

      Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Use AirPods as a hearing aid

      With iOS 12, Apple added a feature, called Live Listen, which essentially turns your AirPods into on-demand hearing aids. There's a bit of setup you'll need to do, but once it's done, you can place your phone on a table closer to the person you're talking to and it will send audio to your AirPods.

      On your iPhone go to聽Settings聽>聽Control Center聽>聽Customize Controls聽and tap on the green "+" symbol next to the聽Hearing聽option. Then, when you need to use the feature put in your AirPods and open Control Center on your iPhone and select the Hearing icon followed by聽Live Listen. Turn off the feature by repeating those final steps in Control Center.

      airpods-bluetooth-menu-mac

      Select AirPods from the Bluetooth menu on Mac.聽

      Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Use AirPods on a Mac

      If you want to use AirPods to listen to all audio coming from your Mac, you will need to select it as an audio output device. To do that, click on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar and select your AirPods > Connect.

      Alternatively, you can use the AirPlay icon in the Music app to select AirPods to stream music from your Mac to your ears. Though, my experience with connecting to AirPods through AirPlay in Music has been hit or miss. Mostly miss.聽

      airpods-on-mac

      AirPods' settings on a Mac.

      Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Customize controls on a Mac

      I'm not sure why I never tried to adjust AirPod settings on the Mac before. I suppose it's because my primary device for using them is my iPhone. Nonetheless, a post on 9to5Mac聽details the process for adjusting your AirPods settings for controlling playback and using Siri.

      With your AirPods connected to your Mac, go to System Preferences > Bluetooth. Click Options next to your AirPods, and use the drop-down menu to adjust settings to your liking.

      Pairing prompt for AirPods that are already paired with another iCloud account.

      Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Sharing, with limitations

      What happens when someone else tries using your AirPods? A message letting them know the AirPods aren't theirs shows up. Of course, he or she can pair the AirPods to their iPhone by tapping Connect, but it's nice to know they can't sneak in some listening time on your AirPods without you knowing.

      Share music, but not phone calls

      Splitting AirPods between two people is like sharing headphones, minus the wire. But, alas, AirPods only make one mic active at a time. That means two people can't hop on one phone call. But, you both could listen in while only one person speaks.

      You can assign microphone duties to a given AirPod in the Bluetooth settings section under Settings > Bluetooth > tap "i" next to your AirPods then Microphone and select the AirPod you want to use as the all-time microphone.

      audio-sharing-with-airpods

      Two pairs of AirPods, one audio source? No problem on iOS 13.

      Jason Cipriani/CNET

      Share audio with friends

      Starting with iOS 13, if you're listening to a new album or streaming a show and a friend or family member who also has AirPods wants to listen, use the new聽Audio Sharing feature. Have your friend hold their iPhone near the top of yours, then follow the prompts.

      Check if your firmware's been updated

      Apple's quietly been pushing new firmware to AirPods to help with performance. You can't update the firmware manually, but you can check to make sure you have the latest version.

      In Settings, go to General >聽About on your iPhone when your AirPods are in your ears. At the bottom of the page, an AirPods tab will bring up the model and serial number plus firmware version.

      Wireless charging is optional

      Alongside the second-gen AirPods, Apple released a new AirPods case that works with Qi-based wireless charging pads. You don't have to buy the AirPods with the wireless charging case -- in fact, it saves you a bit of money if you skip it.

      You can still buy a pair of聽AirPods for $159, and they'll come with better battery life and Hey Siri. For $199 you get the new wireless charging case as well. The AirPods Pro are $249 and come standard with a wireless charging case.聽

      First-gen case upgrade

      If you don't really care to upgrade your AirPods, but you like the idea of wirelessly charging your AirPods you can buy the latest case by itself.聽It'll set you back $79.

      Apple continues to improve and add features to the AirPods with iOS updates. The most recent, iOS 13, is what added the ability for Siri to read your messages to you, along with a dedicated dark mode, improved Reminders app.聽

      airpods-pro

      Apple's AirPods Pro have some new tricks.

      Jason Cipriani/CNET
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