There’s good news for folks who routinely misplace their AirPods: Thanks to iOS 15 and a firmware update that started rolling out on October 6, your iPhone can guide you to within a foot or so of your missing true wireless buds. The new capability is baked into Apple’s Find My app and works with the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, but not Apple’s regular AirPods.
In the past, if you wanted to locate your missing AirPods, your iPhone could certainly point you to their last known location, and even provide directions on a map. But when it came time to actually locating that errant earbud, all you could do was trigger the “play sound” feature and hope that they weren’t buried so deeply in between the couch cushions that you wouldn’t be able to hear them. Now, the Find My app can give you a radar-like interface that actually guides you toward your headphones using a three-level proximity indicator.
To take advantage of it, your iPhone or iPad will need to be on iOS 15 and your AirPods Pro or Max will need the latest firmware. To check your current firmware, go to Settings > Bluetooth, locate your AirPods in the device list, and tap the little blue “i” beside it. In the next screen, look for the About panel and see what it says for Version. If you see anything other than “4A400,” you’ll need the new firmware. There’s nothing you can do to force the firmware update, but I found that after connecting my AirPods Pro, they performed the update within about 15 minutes.
Once the firmware has been updated, you can open the Find My app. In the Devices tab, tap the device you want to find, then tap the Find panel. The app will then try to establish a connection to your AirPods. This will work even if the AirPods Pro are tucked in their case with the lid closed or if your AirPods Max are wrapped in their protective cover.
Once that connection has been established, the display switches to give you an indication of proximity: Far (black screen, tiny white circle, slow haptic rhythm), near (black screen, large blue circle, rapid haptic rhythm), and here (blue screen, large white circle). At any point, you can activate the play sound feature to help you zero in on the missing item.
As part of the improved Find My capabilities, you can also mark your AirPods as lost. Not only will Apple’s Find My network help you track them down, but should someone find them and attempt to connect them to one of their Apple devices, they’ll get a notification with instructions on how to return them to their rightful owners. You can choose to be notified when they’ve been found.
Another clever feature is Notify When Left Behind. Prior to iOS 15, this feature only worked with certain devices like Apple’s AirTags, but it now applies to AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, too. Currently, I can see that option for my headphones, but it’s grayed out and can’t be accessed, but presumably it will be enabled soon.
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