AirPods – Pairing and Usage

In our previous post we took the tour of the device's look and feel. In this one we will go through the yet very easy way of pairing the AirPods to various devices.

Interestingly usually Apple products works well only in Apple's ecosystem but the AirPods could just be used with any device which could stream audio over Bluetooth. And amazingly it sounds equally well whether you are hearing on iPhone or an Android device. However we still need to check whether all features are available on non-Apple device like battery status widget/pop-up, auto switching of microphone depending upon which pod is in the ear, etc.

The pairing process is extremely simple especially with iPhone/iPads. You need to pop the charging case and keep it in the vicinity (see instructions below) and it provides you with on-screen instructions to pair which at the most is just tapping one button. On non Apple devices the process is similar to pairing regular wireless headphones.

  • Turn on bluetooth of the iPhone/iPad, open the cap of charging case and keep in vicinity of 5 cm/2 in and a pop-up would come up asking to pair (W1 chip magic!).For all this to happen, make sure both AirPods are docked within charging case.
  • Press 'Connect' button to start pairing process. Its especially smooth with Apple devices and Apple touts it as 'One-tap setup'.
  • Once the AirPods are paired, it would show the charge status of the AirPods and Charging Case with 'whose' AirPods are these. (useful with multiple AirPods in families/friends)
  • That's it, you can start listening or talking now!

As we said before, the process of paring is a breeze. One thing though that when the AirPods are paired with more than one device switching sometimes becomes a bit of pain. Once I was using the AirPods with my iPad and then I needed to attend call on my iPhone, I manually switched over by suing 'Speaker' button on the call screen and selecting AirPods. After finishing the call I tried to switch over to iPad and some reason the iPhone was still holding it and didn't allowed me to switch. I had to restart iPhone to pair it with iPad.

Another interesting observation is that after keeping the AirPods in vicinity of multiple Apple devices (iPad/iPhone or iPhone/iPhone) and popping the case, brings up notification in both but there is lag in one of them. The AirPods are placed equidistant from both but perhaps it could be the antenna setup or AirPods must be busy transmitting for randomly chosen first device and then to second. This doesn't necessary hinders anything but just a fun fact.

The listening experience is great and at par with EarPods (see my previous blog). Do make sure you stream high quality audio.

Using AirPods

  • Pulling out the AirPods from Charging Case display AirPod only charge status.
  • You can as well add the 'Batteries' widget on home screen to check the charge anytime.
  • In case the AirPods are currently being used with another device (in this case iPad), you can manually have it connect to current one.
  • In either of your media applications, click on 'Cast' button to start casting to 'AirPlay & Bluetooth devices'.
  • Click on the menu item aptly called 'AirPlay & Bluetooth devices' and you would be shown all the available devices.
  • The AirPods should be displayed there, just select it, let it pair and you are set!
  • You can as well set the AirPods from 'Music' widget while swiping up. Just tap on top right corner of the widget, you will be greeted with same 'Available Devices' screen, select AirPods and you are all set!

The AirPod's charge status at times become hit or miss. It particularly needs to be in 5 cm ballpark but in spite of being in that range at times there is considerable lag for the pop-up to show. Feels little choppy in otherwise well implemented setup.

Keeping one AirPod in the case and other outside shows the charging status of both AirPods individually along with Charging Case. Very cool however at times I have observed that my Left Airpod usually has less charge (5-10%) than that of Right. Couldn't find any reason so far but could be anything right from mic activation to tiny battery manifesting itself to relatively higher use of Radio by 'L' pod (all speculations)

Nearly all media applications I used in iPhone/iPad have an option to 'cast' the audio to AirPod devices. I specifically tired it on all music apps, YouTube, Amazon Prime Videos, etc. Just locate the casting button (like when you see connecting to ChromeCast) and connect.

While the AirPods are on you can perform all regular chores including workouts but do not get too aggressive or shake your head else they come off easily. And these supposedly are not meant to be used while bathing/swimming. I can say you can have them comfortable on your ears for 2-3 hours on moderate volume after which ears start to hurt slightly.

Pairing with Android device

  • AirPods could be connected to Android devices too as regular 'wireless bluetooth audio' devices but as expected the pairing isn't as smooth as with iOS.
  • To start pairing, dock the AirPods in the Charging Case, open the cap of the Charging Case, press and hold the button being the Charging Case till the LED between AirPods turn into white and flashes. This signifies that the AirPods are ready to be paired with Bluetooth compatible devices.
  • On your Android device, make sure the Bluetooth is on, goto the Bluetooth menu and 'Refresh' the available device list.
  • You would see your AirPods listed as unpaired device.
  • Tap on Airpods to start the pairing process and follow on-screen instructions if any.
  • Once successful you can start listening and talking.
  • (The device in the pics is our humble Motorola Moto X Play)

Pairing on Android devices is relatively easy too. And the AirPods sounds great on them as well. I especially tried it on my humble Motorola Moto X Play (yes the one that has 21 Megapixel back camera!) and they fared well. Once paired I could easily connect it to them from Bluetooth menu, just like any other audio device. So even when you don't have an Apple device, the AirPods still make sense! You can still be truly wireless.

Charging AirPods

  • Each AirPod device has its own battery wrapped with antennae in the long stalk (yeah the stalk is there for purpose)
  • In our fairly mixed usage of telephony & YouTube videos, the charge lasts for about 3.5-4 hours (pretty near to what apple claims or atlest while the batteries are new!)
  • To recharge them you need to dock the pods in the Charging Case. The LED in the middle tells the charging status of AirPods or Charging Case
  • While the AirPods are docked, the LED has two states, green or amber. Green signifies full charge, Amber partial charge.
  • If the AirPods arent docked,  the LED shows charge status of Charging Case. Green signifies full charge, Amber partial charge.
  • To recharge 'Charging Case' use the lightning connector supplied with the AirPods and connect to any compatible chargers (we prefer iPhone chargers)
  • AirPods can be charged multiple times with fully charged Charging Case. Apple claims upto 24 hours of listening time with instant boost of 3 hours in 15 minutes charging. Pretty neat!

The AirPods houses three batteries, 2 within AirPod themselves and I one large within Charging Device. The moment you are done using your AirPods and dock them back to the case, they start charging. Pop-up them again let's say in 15-20 mins and you have 3 hours of listening time! Pretty decent and nearly at par with never-need-charge of wired headphones (read EarPods).

You can charge AirPods either with regular wall charger (iPhone/iPad) or though USB port and they are quick to charge. But be mindful that it still contains a tiny battery so just don't surge it with larger spec'd chargers. And you can also charge the Charging Case without having AirPods docked into it.

In case you happen to misplace your AirPods panic not! You can use the friendly 'Find My iPhone' app to locate your pods. It can show the pod location on map, if available or has option to make the pods make high frequency, tweet like sound. You can find your AirPods but not charging case if AirPods are not docked into it.

Resetting AirPods

  • In case you are having trouble pairing device or want to pair it with someone else's device you can simply reset your AirPods
  • Dock the AirPods in the Charging Case. Press and hold the button behind Charging Case for 5 seconds or more till the LED between the AirPods turns amber and flashes and reverts back to white. This signifies the reset procedure was successful and the AirPods are read to be paired again.

At times there are situations when AirPods starts throwing tantrums, like not-paring with specific device or not pairing on Android or need to pair it with some other iPhone/iPad, etc. For such situations you could 'reset' your AirPods to near factory conditions and get going again!

I need to personally use it when pairing with Android. For some reason initial paring attempts failed where the Android device could not locate it. I had to reboot the Android phone and then I had to reset the AirPods. Then voila everything worked like magic (after all the age all adage of 'restarting-something-not-working' still holds true, Windows?)

In the next article, I will publish bunch of tips and tricks for the AirPods. Stay tuned!

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