AirPods owners get a nice, albeit subtle, change in iOS 16, released on September 12, 2022.
The main settings screen for your AirPods is now easily accessible from the front of the Settings app when they are connected, rather than being buried under the Bluetooth section of the app.
There are really useful options for your AirPods here, like customizing what your controls do; adjusting how charging works; making sure Find My is turned on so they are harder to miss; change ear detection if it doesn’t work for you; take the Ear Fit Test for AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro 2; and custom spatial audio setup for Pro, AirPods 3rd Gen, or AirPods Max models.
Many people have owned one of the best models of AirPods for years and have never stumbled upon this screen. Until now, to find this screen you’d have had to go to the Settings app, then Bluetooth and tap the little ‘i’ symbol on the right – just tapping the name of your AirPods wouldn’t take you there.
Now you can’t miss it when you open the Settings app, so I hope this makes people even happier with their Apple headphones, although many are happy with just the default options.
However, there are still customization options for AirPods that aren’t available on this screen, so it’s not like AirPods have hidden options yet…
We’re going to have EQ and transparency adjustments, Apple
The only important thing I’d like to see here is the ability to adjust the EQ, or at least a direct shortcut to do so. Apple doesn’t currently offer a way to adjust the EQ for just a specific set of AirPods – you can only do one EQ adjustment that affects all songs in the Apple Music app, no matter what you’re listening to.
I would love for Apple to provide an option to adjust the sound on AirPods models individually, but in the meantime I would settle for a shortcut that takes you from the AirPods settings screen directly to the music settings, so at least the people who were hoping to find this option know where to go.
And the other option I’d like to make more visible is the ability to customize the Transparency mode – I’ve written before about how discovering the hidden controls for this made a big difference for me. And while the new Adaptive Transparency mode on the AirPods looks great and might solve some of my problems with it – and it’s one of the biggest reasons to get the AirPods Pro 2 on its own – it only works with an entirely new model of AirPods. Those with original AirPods Pro and AirPods Max may still want to adjust the mode, as I did.
However, the ability to adjust the Transparency mode remains locked in some layers in the audio accessibility settings. The good news is that the AirPods setup screen contains an accessibility shortcut… then need to tap ‘Audio Accessibility Settings’ and then ‘Headset Accommodations’ which takes you to a blank screen first (you need to flip the switch at the top to see anything).
I doubt Apple will ever move this feature into the main AirPods settings – especially not in its current form, where it’s more focused on people with hearing difficulties and has a bunch of small tweaks you can make. But I’d love to see a simpler version get there in the future, now that maybe more people are thinking about what tweaks to make to their AirPods.
For now, if you want deep customization of options, you might be better off using the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II or the Sony WF-1000XM4.