AirPods owners get a nice, if subtle, change in iOS 16, which was released on September 12, 2022.
The main settings screen for your AirPods is now easily accessible from the front of the Settings app when connected, rather than being buried in the Bluetooth section of the app.
There are really handy options here for your AirPods, like customizing what their controls do; tweak how their charging works; make sure Find My is enabled so they are harder to lose; changing the ear detection in case it doesn’t work well for you; do the Ear Fit test for AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro 2; and setting personalized spatial audio for the Pro models, AirPods 3rd generation, or AirPods Max.
Many people have owned one of the best AirPods models for years and never stumbled upon this screen. To find this screen you first had to go into the Settings app, then Bluetooth, then tap the little ‘i’ symbol on the right – just tapping the name of your AirPods won’t get you there.
Now you can’t miss it if you open the Settings app, so hopefully this will make people even happier with their Apple earbuds, although many will be happy with the default options alone.
However, there are still AirPods customization options that aren’t available in this screen, so it’s not like AirPods are done with hidden options yet…
Let’s have EQ and transparency tweaks, Apple
The only major thing I’d like to see here is the ability to adjust the EQ, or at least a direct shortcut to do that. At this time, Apple doesn’t provide a way to adjust the EQ for just a certain set of AirPods – you can only make an EQ adjustment that affects all music from the Apple Music app, no matter what you listen to.
I’d love for Apple to provide an option to adjust the sound on AirPods models individually, but in the meantime I’d settle for just having a shortcut that takes you from the AirPods settings screen straight to the music settings, so at least people hoping to find this option know where to go.
And the other option I’d like to make more visible is the ability to adjust Transparency Mode – I’ve written before about how discovering the hidden controls for this made a huge difference to me. And while the new Adaptive Transparency Mode on AirPods sounds great, and like it could solve some of my problems with it — and one of the biggest reasons for buying AirPods Pro 2 on its own — it only works with one brand-new model of AirPods. Those with original AirPods Pro and AirPods Max may still want to customize the mode like I did.
However, the ability to adjust Transparency mode remains locked several layers deep in the audio accessibility settings. The good news is that the AirPods settings screen includes an accessibility shortcut… then you’ll need to tap “Audio Accessibility Settings,” then “Headphone Accommodations,” which will take you to a blank screen first (you’ll need to toggle the switch at the top to even see anything).
I doubt Apple will ever move this feature to the main AirPods settings — especially not in its current form, where it’s geared more toward people with hearing impairments, and has several small tweaks you can make. But I’d like to see a simpler version in the future, now that maybe more people will think about what to customize about their AirPods.
For now, if deep customization of the options is what you want, you might be better off with Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II or Sony WF-1000XM4.