Ever wondered how wireless devices such as wireless headphones, home devices or smart TVs work seamlessly and carry out complex functions with ease? While wired accessories have straightforward functions, wireless ones need a framework to follow. This is made possible by something called firmware, which is essentially software installed on each of these devices using a small memory chip. And similar to other software, the firmware has to be updated regularly to improve its user experience.
For instance, a pair of wireless earphones have the capability of searching for and pairing with a smartphone, receiving and playing audio, send out information to your phone such as battery charge level and also transmit commands for audio playlist control or answering/rejecting calls. All of these functions are taken care of by its firmware and without it, the earphones would be obsolete – as would any other similar device without firmware.
AirPods work on the same principle too, and Apple has made sure that the firmware is designed to be more easily compatible with their other products – although there are no limitations on connectivity with Android or devices running other operating systems. In this article, we will take a look at why and how you should update the firmware on your Airpods, and it would apply to the Pro and Max versions as well.
Steps to update AirPods firmware
Updating the firmware on your AirPods is quite simple. The update runs automatically and you do not have to manually navigate on your iPhone or iPad to initiate it. Here are the uncomplicated steps you need to follow:
- Place your AirPods back in the charging case
- Connect the case to a power source using a Lightning cable
- Pair the AirPods and your iPhone via Bluetooth and place them within few inches of each other
- Ensure that the iPhone is connected, without interruption, to an internet connection
Looking for step 5? Well, that’s it. That’s all you need to do to update your AirPods’ firmware. However, just remember to keep the earphones paired to your iPhone while they are in the case, and the rest is taken care of.
How to check AirPods’ firmware
Apple Watches and other smartwatches are usually controllable through an app on your phone, where you can customize watch faces, run updates and choose other settings. Such a function is not available for AirPods, so you only have the option of checking the firmware version on your iPhone. Here’s how:
- Pair AirPods to your iPhone and open the Settings app
- Enter the General Settings section
- Tap on ‘About’; scroll down to find it
- Search and tap on the name of your AirPods or AirPods Pro
- The info section on the AirPods will show the firmware version along with the hardware version, serial number and model number.
Alternatively, you can open Bluetooth settings, find your AirPods in your device list and check the version by tapping on the ‘i’ button next to it.
Note: When you check the firmware version through the About page, you will find it as a numerical value such as 3.5.1. And when you check the version through the Bluetooth devices list, you will find an alphanumerical value such as 3A283.
How to confirm if AirPods’ firmware has been updated
Unfortunately, Apple does not officially release info on the firmware updates. This is fitting, as they have designed the firmware update as an automatic process. Additionally, they expect all their customers to update their iPhones to the latest versions of iOS. Once this is done, it is only a matter of time before the AirPods are updated too.
Thankfully, Apple is not the only source of information on their products. There are many forums and blogs which share information on the latest firmware available. A quick search on Google will inform you about the newest updates. Once you know what the latest firmware available for your AirPods or AirPods Pro is, you can confirm the same.
Tip: While searching for the info online, make sure you mention the exact name of the AirPods model that you own. For example, AirPods 1st Generation or 2nd Generation, or Pro, or AirPods Max.
Why should you update your AirPods?
The world of technology is fast-paced, and not keeping up would mean that you are not getting the best out of your purchase – especially for Apple products, which are priced much higher than their competitors. Here are a few reasons why firmware updates are important for your AirPods:
- New features are added to AirPods from time to time; the latest of which have been spatial audio and automatic switching capabilities. Spatial audio adjusts the audio output in accordance with your placement from the screen. You may miss out on other such slick features without timely firmware updates.
- Firmware updates could enhance connectivity speeds, not only with one device but also while switching between multiple devices. This would be specifically useful for those of you who use multiple devices simultaneously.
- New devices that release in the market hold updated configurations, and connecting your AirPods to them can prove to be a challenge if the firmware is not up to date. This holds true in particular to new iPhones and iPads that are launched.
- Devices have issues and bugs, and often you may not even realise that they exist – and AirPods are no exceptions to this. Firmware updates fix these bugs, resulting in better user and sound performance.
Things to keep in mind before updating your AirPods’ firmware
With electronics, we always have instances when we’re unable to use the product right, or operate them in the right way. A few points to keep in mind while you try to update the firmware on your AirPods:
- Though AirPods are compatible with Android and other operating systems, firmware updates are only possible when paired and connected with a device running on iOS (iPhone or iPad). This, unsurprisingly, further advocates Apple’s insistence on using only their products. Updates cannot be run through Macs either.
- The updates can take place only when the AirPods are in their charging case, which has to be plugged into a power source – either a computer, wall socket or wireless charging pad. The reason behind this is so that the pods don’t lose power mid-update.
- At times, you may try to update the AirPods but may not be successful. The updating sometimes hits a snag and all you have to do is retry the process.
- The process usually happens automatically when the ear pods are placed in the charging case and connected to the iPhone or iPad, which means you usually don’t have to manually check for updates.
- Unlike iOS or macOS updates, Apple does not share info on any new features or upgrades that may be included in the latest version of the AirPods firmware. Your earphones will be upgraded regardless of the update specifics.
- Occasionally, a new update may not function as expected and may have certain glitches or bugs, but there is no workaround for this. You will have to get the update and sit tight until the next one is available.
- Certain features, such as spatial audio, are mutually inclusive between the AirPods and the iPhone; it is available only for iPhone 7 and later.
- Updates may not take place if the iPhone is not updated to its latest iOS version.
How to update the AirPods Max firmware
The AirPods Max is the first over-ear option in the AirPods series, and it has been a well-received product in the market with 5 available colour options. Those of you who are planning to purchase one or have recently bought one may wonder how different or similar the workings of a Max are to its in-ear alternatives. The AirPods Max is available in two variations – one with a Smart Case and one without.
As far as the firmware update on the Max is concerned, it is even less of a hassle than the other AirPods because it does not necessarily need to be placed in a charging case, or a Smart Case. You only need to pair and connect the headset to your iPhone and ensure that the lightning cable is attached and plugged into a power source. The remaining steps remain identical to AirPods or AirPods Pro.
Leading brands such as Apple endlessly bring about developments in their existing products, or through new products. Existing products can only be improved through software, and this is why you should ensure that your products are running on the latest available software, whether it is the iOS on the iPhone or iPad or in this case, the firmware on the AirPods.
Although the process is automatic and does not need your intervention, they are still easy to miss. The updates take place only in certain fixed conditions, so checking now and then if you are operating on the latest versions can prove useful. These updates may be able to fix bugs, resolve issues and also bring you new features which may have been previously unavailable to you. So, keep your AirPods’ firmware updated to enjoy their latest functions and improved sound performance!