How to get the latest AirPods firmware updates

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How to get the latest AirPods Pro firmware update
There are firmware updates out for AirPods Pro and AirPods 3. Here’s how to get them.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

Anyone with AirPods Pro or AirPods 3 will surely want the just-released firmware updates for these in-ear headphones. Even though we don’t what’s in them.

The AirPods update process is indirect, but we can steer you through it.

Get your AirPods updates while they’re hot

AirPods aren’t a “set it and forget it” product. Apple periodically releases firmware updates. It doesn’t announce these. And we generally don’t know what’s changed because Apple doesn’t make release notes available for this type of update. That’s what happened on Tuesday.

Still, the new update supposedly has AirPods Pro and their case indicate when they are in Optimized Battery Charging. This extends the life of a battery by not charging it to 100% and keeping there. Instead, it intelligently charges the accessories only when they are expected to be needed. This isn’t a new feature — it debuted in iOs 14 — but the latest firmware allegedly begins notifying the user when it’s going on.

And we definitely know that AirPods Pro just received firmware update 4A402. That replaces 4A400 from October.

Apple launched AirPods 3 earlier this fall and quickly released a firmware update to version 4B61. On Tuesday, updated version 4B66 is ready to install.

There were no updates for AirPods Max or AirPods 2 introduced on Tuesday, but these truly wireless headphones recently received version 4A400. It’s been a while since original AirPods were updated.

How to update AirPods Pro to 4A402 and AirPods 3 to 4B66

AirPods updates happen on the down-low. You can’t tell them to update. And Apple’s wireless earbuds don’t make it easy for you to know if a new firmware version has been installed.

The best you can do to request an update is put your AirPods in their case, with the case getting power. And the iPhone that they are paired with needs to be close by. Then wait.

Realistically, this is a problem only for people who get antsy about controlling firmware updates, and who want the latest as soon as they can get it. For everyone else, just keep using your AirPods. The update will happen without you having to do a thing.

Find out if new AirPods firmware is installed

You can find out if/when a new AirPods firmware update has been installed only by digging around in the Settings app. To do this, you need an active connection to the headphones, so open the lid of the charging case. Or put the earbuds on. Whichever you prefer.

Go to Settings > Bluetooth and tap in the blue i with a circle around it next to the name of your AirPods. If Version says 4A402 on AirPods Pro, you’re golden. On AirPods 3, you’re looking for 4B66.

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article first published on November 14, 2019, and updated periodically since then with successive new AirPods firmware versions.