AirPods have become sought after ever since their debut in 2016, but the new AirPods Pro you’ve just ripped open with excitement on Christmas morning step things up.
AirPods Pro take the convenience of quick pairing with your iPhone and a case that charges them and adds incredibly impressive noise cancellation and Transparency, a mode that lets you hear the world around you even when you’ve got the buds stuffed down your lugholes.
AirPods Pro seem like a simple concept and thankfully they are, but there are a few things you should know about them before they can fit seamlessly into your everyday life. Here’s how to set up your AirPods Pro and a few things to do and download to make sure you’re getting the most out of them.
1) Connect them to your device
You can use AirPods Pro with an Android device but it’s a much more seamless set up experience with an iPhone or iPad.
All you have to do is unwrap ‘em and then flip open the white case near your iPhone with the screen on. You’ll see a fancy graphic pop up – simply tap connect. It’ll then show you a short tutorial on the AirPods Pro’s features and how to use them, but we’ll go into more detail on that in a sec.
Once you see the screen where it’s named the AirPods Pro as yours (hooray!) then tap done. You can put them in your ears now. (If you have an Android phone, you’ll need to press and hold the button on the AirPods Pro case while it’s open and they are in it. Wait till the light is flashing white and then check the Bluetooth menu on your phone. They will appear in it – tap to connect.
Tips 2) and 3) only work as described on an iPhone.
2) Do the fit test
The main design difference between the older AirPods and your AirPods Pro is the in-ear design. In the packaging you’ll find small and large size tips, while the medium tips are pre-fitted to the AirPods Pro. It’s important to ensure you’ve got a good fit so you get the best sound quality and can take advantage of the clever sound modes.
Put your AirPods Pro in your ears and then on your iPhone go to Settings > Bluetooth and then tap the blue ‘i’ icon next to the AirPods Pro (which should be ‘Connected’). This takes you to the AirPods Pro settings menu. Tap the option ‘Ear Tip Fit Test’. As the next screen will tell you, it’s a short test to make sure you’ve got a good fit and seal in your ears. Tap ‘Continue’ at the bottom of the screen and then the blue play bar at the bottom of the next to start the test. A short piece of music will play, where hopefully each ear bud graphic will report ‘Good Seal’ in green.
If you get a result for one or both ears in yellow that says ‘Adjust or Try a Different Ear Tip’ then you need to push the AirPods Pro into your ear – but be careful! You don’t want to force it and it might mean you need to try a different size tip. Play around with the three tip sizes until you get a good fit. It doesn’t matter if you use two different sizes for your ears – you’re unique.
Tap ‘Done’ when you’re getting a ‘Good Seal’ result for both ears. (This feature is not available on Android phones.)
3) Check out the cool new sound modes
While in that same AirPods Pro menu (Settings > Bluetooth and then tap the blue ‘i’ icon next to the AirPods Pro) you can also test the Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes, the AirPods Pro’s party piece.
AirPods Pro use built in microphones to listen to the sound around you. When Noise Cancellation is on, they’ll play back the opposite frequency to those sounds, effectively cancelling out the noise (you’d probably worked that out from the name). Think of them as high-tech earplugs. That means when you play music or audiobooks or podcast or videos you won’t get as much ambient noise interrupting your listening. It’s great for loud places like trains, planes and busy cities, or even if you’re cooking.
To test it, play some music on your iPhone and then go to this menu. Tap Noise Cancellation and then tap ‘Off’ to see the difference. It’s quite impressive. Now tap ‘Transparency’ and you’ll see the mode that does the opposite – it allows the sounds around you in so that you’re more aware of the world around you. This is best for when you’re crossing roads or driving so you can still hear other sounds while listening to music or on a phone call. If you pause your audio, Transparency also means you can talk to people in the room without taking off your AirPods Pro, even though we still think that’s a tad rude! But hey, it works.
AirPods Pro have touch sensitive stems that you have to pinch to use. A pinch will pause your audio and another will play, while pinch and hold cycles between Noise Cancellation, Transparency, and Off modes. By tapping on ‘Left’ or ‘Right’ under ‘Press and hold AirPods’ you can decide if you cycle between two or three modes. Play around and see which works best for you. (You can still use the media controls and cycle between sound modes on an Android phone but you can’t do any customisations.)
4) Download Apple Music or Spotify
You might already have your iTunes library loaded onto your phone but if you are short on music and podcasts you should get a free trial of either Apple Music or Spotify.
We prefer Spotify for its clever music recommendation algorithms, superior UI and expansive catalogue of music. You can download the Spotify app for free (on iPhone or Android) and can sign up for a three-month free trial. You need to add your payments details, but make a note to cancel them just before the fourth month first payment and you won’t pay a penny. The trial will tide you over with basically all music ever and most podcasts. \
You can do the same on Apple Music, (also available for Android) which you might prefer if you live in Apple’s ecosystem. It has particularly good hip hop playlists, we’ve found – but also does everything Spotify can do.
Simply open the Music app on your iPhone and it’ll steer you towards a free three-month trial. Your iPhone already has the Apple Podcasts app on it, too.
5) Buy an accessory
An accessory for an accessory we hear you cry? Hear us out.
What you might want to do is buy a wireless charging pad. AirPods Pro come with a Lightning cable to charge the case, but it is also Qi-charging compatible. If you have an iPhone 8 or later, the same charging pad will also charge your iPhone. The simplest products are usually the best – Apple recommends and sells the Belkin BOOST UP pad, which will charge your phone and AirPods Pro (but not at the same time).
If you think you’re going to lose that tiny AirPods Pro case then there’s also a fine line in third party cases to help you hang onto your expensive headphones. For cheap and functional check out this Spigen case, or you can go for a hint of luxury with this leather option from Twelve South.