AirPods are seamlessly integrated with your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac. They’re simple and almost magical to use, but if you want to get the most out of them, you have to dig into the settings.
#1: Share audio between two pairs of AirPods
You want to listen to a song or watch a video with a close friend, so you each grab an earphone and press play. Who hasn’t done this?
But if your friend has their own pair of AirPods (or newer Beats headphones), you can play music on both at the same time.
To take advantage of this great AirPods audio sharing feature, first press the AirPlay button. Then tap Share Audio, make sure your friends headphones are nearby, then tap Share Audio. Your friend may need to tap Join on their iPhone. Then just check the other device in the list. Uncheck to stop.
You can also set different volume levels for your own AirPods. Open Control Center and hold down the volume slider. You’ll see it expand to two sliders that you can customize.
* Works with AirPods (all models and versions), Beats Fit Pro, Beats Flex, Beats Solo Pro, Beats Solo³ Wireless, Beats Studio³ Wireless, BeatsX, Powerbeats, Powerbeats Pro and Powerbeats³ Wireless.
No. 2: Spy on a conversation with Live Listen
Apple’s Live Listening feature uses your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch’s microphone as the audio source, then streams audio to your AirPods. If you are hard of hearing or in a noisy meeting, you can start a conversation more easily.
But the AirPods really have a long range. This means you can leave your phone on a coffee table or shelf where people are talking and sit in the next room to hear their conversation. Of course, you should always use this feature for good, not for bad.
To use Live Listening, first go to Settings > Control Center and scroll down to tap +Listen. This adds auditory accessibility controls to your iPhone’s Control Center.
With your AirPods paired, just press this button and tap Listen Live to get started.
#3: Create a Custom Transparency Function
If you have a supported headset, you can actually create a custom setup to suit your hearing.
You may miss the higher or lower end of the audio spectrum, so if you adjust the fit of headphones, music, movies, phone calls and podcasts [θα] they sound clearer.
Go to Settings > Accessibility > Sound/Visual > Headset Aids and turn it on.
You have options to optimize balance, voices and brightness. The slider will adjust the dynamics with which you want to amplify the sound.
Scroll down to set whether you want it to adjust the sound for phone calls, media playback, or both.
But it does not stop there. You can use an app like Mimi to take a hearing test, connect it to Apple Health, and use your audiogram to fit it to your ears.
#4: Customize your AirPods controls
On newer AirPods, you can tap the stem for various commands: click to play/pause, hold to toggle noise cancellation on or off. On older AirPods, you do this by tapping on your earbuds.
But you can change what these actions do. You can even assign different commands to the left and right AirPods.
To change AirPods controls, first make sure your headphones are connected to your iPhone. Then open Settings > AirPods. In the Left or Right area, you can choose different actions: Noise Control (on some models), Siri, Play/Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, or Off if you don’t want to use this feature. Personally, I use the left AirPod for Siri and the right for audio controls.
#5: Check Apple Watch Noise Cancellation
If you have AirPods Pro, you might know that you can switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency by long-pressing the stem of an AirPod or in your iPhone’s Control Center.
But you can also do it from your Apple Watch. From your watch’s Now Playing screen, tap the AirPlay icon in the lower left corner and choose from the menu (Off, Noise Cancellation, or Transparency). Doing it visually like this is sometimes easier than blindly clicking the button on your AirPods.
#6: Announce calls and messages
Along the same lines, you can have your AirPods announce who’s calling or read your text messages to you so you don’t have to look at your iPhone or Apple Watch.
Go to Settings > Phone > Call notification and set it to Headset only. Then go to Settings > Notifications > Push Notifications and enable it.