AirPods users hope firmware update lets them use replacement buds

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Airpods 2
An AirPods 2 firmware update benefits everyone who uses these earbuds, but some people should be extra happy.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Apple on Tuesday introduced the first firmware update for second-generation AirPods since late last year.

This should benefit those who received a replacement AirPods bud last month with unreleased firmware. They can now update both to the same firmware version so they’re usable again.

AirPods sales spike means total market domination

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AirPods-Pro-vs-AirPods
AirPods and AirPods Pro outsell all rivals by a wide margin.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple sold almost 60 million AirPods wireless headphones in 2019, according to a market-analysts firm. That’s a dramatic increase from the 35 million the company is estimated to have sold the year before.

And Apple took the lion’s share of 2019 sales of totally wireless (TWS) headsets.

Big change coming to MacBook Pro and we reveal our Gear of the Year, on The CultCast

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CultCast 417
A welcome change may be coming to MacBook Pro and iPad...
Photo: @YSR50

This week on The CultCast: Apple is readying a new display technology that could bring a huge change for MacBook Pro and iPad; our favorite Black Friday hauls; and it’s time for our favorite Gear of the Year! Plus our favorite movies, TV shows, and all the other stuff we loved most in 2019. It’s a party and you’re invited.

Our thanks to NETGEAR for supporting this episode. The Orbi WiFi 6 router gives you ultra-fast speeds and wider coverage throughout your home – it’s the biggest revolution in WiFi ever. Check it out today at Netgear.com/bestwifi.

Pro or no: Which AirPods should you get?

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AirPods vs. AirPods Pro: Which is better? Feature-packed, or sleek and simple?
Which is better? Feature-packed, or sleek and simple?
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Apple’s AirPods are brilliant. They’re incredibly convenient, sleek and offer pretty good sound. They also add a layer of functionality you don’t get with many other Bluetooth headphones or earbuds. And I’m not even talking about the new AirPods Pro.

So, now that Apple expanded the AirPods line to include both the standard AirPods, and the pricier (although more feature-packed) AirPods Pro, choosing the right option might not seem so clear. How do you choose the AirPods that are best for your life?

See just how fun AirPods cases can be

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AirPods cases
Your AirPods case doesn’t have to stay plain white.
Screenshot: Apple

Apple Korea created a video to demonstrate some unusual ways to fancy up AirPods charging cases. Many people decorate their Mac and iPhone, and pick a stylish Apple Watch band too. Why leave this AirPods accessory plain white?

Watch the video now:

Preorders for colorful Powerbeats Pro open Wednesday

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Powerbeats Pro
These are all the colors Powerbeats Pro will be available in soon.
Photo: Beats

Apple’s Powerbeats Pro wireless headphones have been available in any color you want, as long as it’s black. That’s going to change later this week when pre-orders finally start for ivory, moss, and navy options.

AirPods won’t escape Trump’s tariffs this time

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Bluetooth in iOS 11
Apple will have to pay import taxes on AirPods starting next month.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Not all Apple devices will escape the taxes being levied next month on goods imported from China. The Trump Administration decided to delay tariffs on iPhone, iPad and Mac, but other popular products will still get slapped with a 10% import tax, including Apple Watch, AirPods and HomePod

Are the Powerbeats Pro better than AirPods? [Review]

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Powerbeat Pro in charging case
Order yours now!
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Back in 2014 – long before the AirPods – I picked up what would become my go-to fitness earbuds – the PowerBeats2. A year and a half later, the AirPods came out, replacing my PowerBeats2 that were literally falling apart.

Fast forward to now, and I’ve been using my AirPods – both my first gen, and more recently, my second gen – in almost every situation. I use them all the time and carry them almost everywhere I go. But sometimes I hate my AirPods. No matter how simple and convenient they are, they insist on slipping just a little when I wear them while exercising. And if there’s any background noise or wind, even the loudest volume is inaudible while wearing the AirPods.

Even with those minor drawbacks, they were my favorite headphones. Then I got the new Powerbeats Pro.

The best AirPods 2 tips and tricks

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This won’t fool anybody.
This won’t fool anybody.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

AirPods 2 have arrived. Faster, longer-lasting, and with extra Hey Siri action, they’re a solid upgrade to the  (deservedly well-loved) originals.

The new AirPods work — for the most part — just like the old ones, with a few extra Siri options. And that means that all the best AirPod tricks, like eavesdropping with Live Listen, and customizing your double-taps, all still work. Check out our roundup of the best tips and tricks for AirPods 2.