AirPods

Read Cult of Mac’s latest posts on AirPods:

Fight over blood oxygen feature cuts into Apple Watch sales

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Apple Watch Shock
A patent fight over the pulse oximeter inside the Apple Watch hurt sales of the wearable.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch shipments dropped almost 20% year over year in the first quarter of 2024. Market analysts blame some of the decline on Apple being temporarily forced to halt sales of its most recent wearables in a patent dispute over blood oxygen monitoring in units sold in the United States.

AirPods sales also declined in Q1 2024 but for a different reason.

Teen’s dislodged AirPod tracks alleged hit-and-run driver

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AirPods tracks alleged hit-and-run driver
Here's the car the sheriff's department tracked with the help of an errant AirPod earbud.
Photo: Martin County Sheriff's Office

AirPods are great earphones, but did you know they can also be crime fighters? In Florida, a dislodged AirPod tracked an alleged hit-and-run driver after a bike-riding teen’s head went through his passenger window and the earbud popped out and got stuck under a floormat.

Location tracking on that little earbud led straight to an arrest on felony charges.

How to get the latest AirPods Pro firmware update

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How to get the latest AirPods Pro 2 firmware update
AirPods Pro 2 have new firmware. Get it now.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

First off: There’s no direct way to update AirPods firmware. When Apple updates AirPods software — as it just did for AirPods Pro 2 — the update happens automatically, in the background. However, there is a way to speed up the update process. Plus, it’s a good idea to manually check you’re running the latest version, which brings bug fixes and sometimes great new features.

As noted, Apple most recently released fresh firmware for AirPods Pro 2, taking the truly wireless earbuds to 6F7. (You can find other current AirPods firmware versions below.)

Here’s how to check if your AirPods are running the latest firmware on iPhone, iPad and Mac. Plus what to do if they aren’t, and how to force AirPods’ firmware to update.

How to rename your Apple devices so you can tell them apart

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Tell Your Devices Apart
Change the name so you can tell them apart.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can change the name of your Apple devices, whether you have an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, AirPods or Apple TV. By default, it’s just “[your name]’s iPhone.” But you can give your iPhone its own unique name, like Kit-Kat or Magic Rectangle.

Also by default, when you set up a new iPhone, the name is transferred. This can get confusing if you keep old phones around because you’ll see “John’s iPhone,” “John’s iPhone (2),” maybe even “John’s iPhone (3)” and more. The same is true for Apple Watch, Mac, iPad and AirPods.

The name of your device shows up among a bunch of Apple features like AirDrop, Find My, Personal Hotspot, AirPlay and more. If you use these features often, giving it a unique name will make it easier to identify.

Here’s how to fix this mess on all your Apple devices. Keep reading or watch our video.

Love Sonos speakers and soundbars? Here’s your chance to save big.

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Sonos Beam soundbar - Sonos refurbished speakers and soundbars
Sonos first-gen Beam soundbar at 25% off is one of the deals you can grab.
Photo: Sonos

A lot of folks love Apple audio products like HomePod speakers and AirPods earbuds. But another cherished audio brand is running a promotion right now you don’t want to miss. That would be 25% off Sonos refurbished speakers and soundbars, plus a couple of other primo deals. See the details below.

After all, we know Apple’s refurbs are good, so why not Sonos?

Give your AirPods a deep cleaning with this specialized tool

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Pick up a pair AirPods cleaner pens. This earbuds cleaning tool also works on iPhones and other tech.
This two-pack of cleaning pens for earbuds, smartphones and other gadgets costs just $15.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Don’t let earwax, dust and dirt foul your AirPods. You can keep things pristine with a specialized deep-cleaning tool that works on Apple’s earbuds and other devices without destroying them. And you won’t destroy your wallet, either, because this AirPod cleaner is on sale now at an outrageous discount.

For a limited time, this versatile AirPods cleaning tool currently comes in a two-pack for only $11.99 (regularly $29) with code ENJOY20.

Good news for AirPods, bad news for Apple [The CultCast]

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The CultCast episode 639: AirPods rumors for 2024.
Even the latest AirPods rumors can't cheer us up this week.
Image: Cult of Mac

This week on Cult of Mac’s podcast: The latest rumors indicate 2024 will bring big changes to the AirPods lineup. In fact, Apple’s ramping up for “the biggest AirPods launch to date.”

But even this fantastic news can’t cheer us up after the Department of Justice files a wide-ranging antitrust lawsuit against Apple. We recorded this episode of The CultCast right after news of the DOJ’s suit broke, and some of us are fuming!

Also on The CultCast:

  • So … Apple might lean on Google Gemini to power iOS 18 features? Good luck with that.
  • iPhone 17 could bring a major upgrade in the display department.
  • The next-gen Vision Pro headset might drop the price to something much more approachable.

Listen to this week’s episode of The CultCast in the Podcasts app or your favorite podcast app. (Be sure to subscribe and leave us a review if you like it!) Or watch the video live stream, embedded below.

Get ready for ‘the biggest AirPods launch to date’

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Apple needs to take the frustration out of AirPods firmware updates
With ANC, AirPods 4 might be a significant jump up from its predecessor.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple suppliers are reportedly preparing for “the biggest AirPods launch to date.” The company is supposedly planning to produce between 20 million and 25 million units of AirPods 4, a significant jump from previous models.

Apple could launch the AirPods 4 in two flavors later this year: one with ANC and another without. Alongside updated internals, the new earbuds purportedly will sport a sleeker new design.

This might be the coolest AirPods case money can buy [Review]

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Elago-W3-AirPods-case
It looks like a tiny Macintosh!
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

AirPods won’t win any awards for their durability. Their shiny plastic case picks up scratches faster than a hip-hop DJ’s latest vinyl. So you should protect them with a decent case. And for Apple fans, nothing can beat this AirPods that case looks like a Mac.

AirPods cases don’t come much cooler than those from Elago. This one is like carrying a tiny little Macintosh with you wherever you go. And prices start at just $11.99.

Update: Elago’s awesome W3 case, which makes your AirPods look like a tiny Macintosh, is now available for the latest (third-generation) AirPods and AirPods Pro. Read on for our full review.

How to use AirPods as hearing aids

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AirPods Pro and Transparency Mode make for fine hearing aids.
AirPods Pro and Transparency Mode make for fine hearing aids.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

AirPods can work surprisingly well as hearing aids. Thanks to Transparency mode, AirPods Pro will boost the sound of your environment around you. They can give you freaky Spiderman super-hearing if you boost input volume to the max. And Conversation Boost on the latest AirPods Pro 2 can intelligently raise the volume of people talking to you (while lowering the volume of your music or podcasts).

My prescription hearing aids were out of action recently due to a battery problem, so for a few weeks, I used my AirPods Pro as hearing aids.

For the most part, they’ve been pretty good. They work best when set up properly, which is a bit of a chore, but here’s how to do it.

iOS 18 could bring hearing aid functionality to AirPods Pro

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iOS 18 could bring hearing aid functionality to AirPods Pro
Conversation Boost in current AirPods Pro acts like a hearing aid but Apple reportedly wants to go farther.
Graphic: Apple

AirPods Pro might be able to act more like a hearing aid with the release of iOS 18, according to an Apple tipster.

The additional audio function would benefit those with slight hearing loss who aren’t ready for more serious hearing assistance.

AirPods work even better with Mac, thanks to AirBuddy

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Treat an Apple lover to a tool that improves AirPods utility on Mac: AirBuddy is only $8.
Enjoy enhanced AirPods functionality on Mac with AirBuddy, on sale now for only $8.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Love the way AirPods work with an iPhone but a little meh about how they work with a Mac? The AirBuddy Mac app will connect AirPods to Mac, with enhancements that provide the same advanced features you enjoy when using Apple’s earbuds with an iPhone.

You can grab AirBuddy for only $8.99. (And if you don’t already own AirPods, and you’re a Costco member, don’t miss this hot deal on AirPods Pro with USB-C case. It’s somehow still going strong!)

Clock ticks on killer iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods refurb deals

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Deals on Apple refurbished gear - iPhone 13 Pro
On the deals list: iPhone 13 Pro (and various minis!)
Photo: Apple

Amazon bargain site Woot! is quietly offering some fantastic refurbished Apple gear deals, including iPhones, Apple Watches and AirPods.

Woot refers to its deals lineup as “basically an Apple soup.” It’s your chance to slurp up bargains (if you don’t need the newest gadgets).

The sale ends Monday, February 26, at 10 p.m. PT.

Get up to $100 off AirPods Max while you can

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AirPods Max on charging stand
Getting $100 off the top-shelf cans is a good deal, even with an updated version on the way.
Photo: Floating Pixels

In what appears to be the first big discount on Apple’s $549 over-ear, noise-canceling headphones in 2024, you can currently get up to $100 off AirPods Max at Amazon and Best Buy ($449.99).

The last time folks had a shot at a deal like this was Black Friday 2023. It’s not clear how long the deals might last. And other AirPods models are also on sale.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.

AirPods airplane adapter makes in-flight entertainment sound great

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Elevate your connections with a $46 Bluetooth transmitter and receiver.
Use your AirPods to hear the plane's in-flight movies with this inexpensive Bluetooth transmitter and receiver.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Even in 2024, most in-flight entertainment systems don’t offer Bluetooth connections. Without an AirPods airplane adapter, you can’t pop in your favorite earbuds and enjoy your choice of the airline’s featured movies, TV shows and music in a glorious state of noise-cancellation-induced bliss. Instead, you need to bring an additional pair of wired headphones or use (or purchase) a crappy pair on the plane.

If using random earbuds that don’t sound good and/or continuously fall out seems unappealing to you, you’re not alone. That’s why this Eve II Bluetooth Transmitter and Receiver is such a useful device for travelers. Perfect for any upcoming air travel, it’s on sale now for only $45.99 (regularly $59).

Through Wednesday only: Up to 83% off Apple accessories

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Apple MagSafe Duo wireless charger
You can get a MagSafe Duo wireless charger for iPhone and Apple Watch for 38% off.
Photo: Apple

Amazon bargain site Woot! is offering deep discounts, anywhere from 13% to 83% off, on dozens of Apple accessories and a few choice items like Apple Watch Ultra and AirPods Pro — but only until Wednesday at 9:59 p.m. PT.

As of Tuesday morning, one item had sold out and 52 remained, including accessories for iPhone, Apple Watch, AirTag, AirPods and more. See some highlights below.

Last chance: Win a portable magnetic 3-in-1 wireless charger [Cult of Mac giveaway]

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Kuxiu X55 3-in-1 Foldable Magnetic Wireless Charger and Stand
The X55 charger and stand keeps your iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch going.
Photo: Kuxiu

Need a portable charger to juice up your iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch pretty much anywhere? Enter our new giveaway! Through January 31, Cult of Mac and Kuxiu offer users worldwide the chance to win a sleek Kuxiu X55 3-in-1 Foldable Magnetic Wireless Charger and Stand.

The little three-way charging stand, which folds up small enough to slip into a pocket, normally retails for $79.99. It and other products are on sale now for Valentine’s Day, but wouldn’t you rather just win one? Enter the giveaway below. X55 stands will go to three lucky winners worldwide.

Matrix Ultimate charges your gadgets at home and on the go [Review] ★★★★

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Alogic Matrix Ultimate★★★★
Matrix Ultimate fast-charges MagSafe iPhones and Apple Watch while also juicing up AirPods
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

If you only want one charger for your smaller gadgets, Alogic’s new Matrix Ultimate is nearly ideal. You can use the 3-in-1 charger for iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch at home or easily take it with you on trips.

That’s because the solidly built folding portable charger has a removable power bank and Apple Watch charging puck, plus a very nice felt carrying case. And it comes with a power adapter and USB-C cable. It’s not cheap, but it’s quite useful.

Take your pick of hefty discounts on AirPods models

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AirPods Pro 2
AirPods Pro 2 are seeing a solid discount right now on Amazon.
Photo: Apple

Amazon is offering discounts on all Apple AirPods models right now, including some hefty ones. Depending on the right model for you, you might save as much as 24% off the regular price, or about $60.

Even AirPods Max over-ear headphones are priced down a bit, with prices ranging from $495 to $535 depending upon which color you choose (under the regular $549 price).

New Sennheiser wireless earbuds measure heart rate and body temperature

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Sennheiser Momentum Sport earbuds olive
These new sport buds will track your heart rate and body temperature.
Photo: Sennheiser

Sennheiser unveiled three new earphones at CES 2024 that will compete with various AirPods, including Momentum Sport wireless earbuds that track heart rate and body temperature. Those kinds of sensors were expected in AirPods Pro (2nd generation), launched in September 2022, but didn’t show up.

In addition, Momentum True Wireless 4 earbuds become the venerable brand’s new flagship buds for sound quality and Accentum Plus bring top-shelf features to relatively affordable over-ear headphones.  

Everything Apple is working on in 2024 [Video]

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Collage of iPhones, Apple Watch, iPad, Macs and AirPods
Apple is going to have a big 2024.
Image: Apple/D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

2024 is going to be a big year for Apple products. The iPhone is due for a second year in a row of big changes. And the entire iPad lineup is getting refreshed. The rest of the Macs are being updated to M3 chips. The Apple Watch Series X may receive a radical design. And fourth-gen AirPods will bring pro noise cancellation features to the cheaper buds.

We have a new video that summarizes everything we know about Apple’s top products coming next year.

What to expect from AirPods and AirPods Max in 2024

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AirPods in 2024
Expect to see two versions of AirPods 4 -- including one with noise canceling -- in 2024.
Photo: Cult of Mac

In an effort to boost sales and clarify offerings, Apple will revamp its AirPods lineup in 2024, reports have indicated — but that won’t include updates for every product.

AirPods 4 should arrive next year, with two versions replacing current lower-priced earbuds models. And AirPods Max will receive some long-awaited updates, although the pricey over-ear headphones won’t get a major revamp. And as for what comes after AirPods Pro 2, we’ll have to wait until early 2025, most likely.

How to set up and use your brand-new AirPods

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lost AirPods
Not everyone has the ears for AirPods
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

If you’re a super lucky duck, then Santa may have left a pair of AirPods a) in your stocking or b) under your tree (depending on how good or bad you’ve been in 2023). AirPods are truly one of the best products Apple ever made, because they really do offer a huge upgrade on all previous headphones.

They’re easy to use, and they sound amazing. Here are a few pointers on getting the most out of your new AirPods.

Apple readies AirPods 4 with noise cancellation, plans AirPods Max update

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AirPods 4 are coming in 2024
Expect to see two versions of AirPods 4 -- including one with noise canceling -- in 2024.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple will revamp its AirPods lineup in 2024 in an effort to boost sales and clarify offerings, a new report indicates.

AirPods 4 should arrive next year, with two versions replacing current lower-priced earbuds models. And AirPods Max will receive some long-awaited updates, although the pricey over-ear headphones won’t get a major revamp.