Are your AirPods not “connecting like magic”? Here are a few things to try.

Apple’s website touts AirPods’ ability to “magically connect” to iPhones and “move seamlessly” between iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, and Macs. For many, popular Bluetooth headphones work as billed. But for others – including me – AirPods have become AirProblems.

Last September, I wrote a year-long review of the AirPods Pro, praising their top-notch noise cancellation, new spatial audio feature, and even ease of pairing. After this column, colleagues and readers flooded my inbox with emails detailing various connections and switching incidents.

This year I started to feel my own frustration. When there is an incoming call and I put the pros in my ears, “Nic Pods Connected” appears on the screen, but when I answer the call I can’t hear anyone on the other end of the phone. because the audio source is set to that of the phone. speaker.

Melissa Jean Clark is a Toronto-based web designer who uses AirPods Pro to listen to Spotify on her MacBook Pro while she works. When Ms. Clark reviews the projects on her iPhone, the headphones switch to that device instead. “I’m losing my focus. Every time I pick up my phone, they connect to it, and it comes and goes over and over again, ”she said.

David Tyler, of Norwich, Vermont, was in mid-sentence on a Zoom call when his AirPods Pro unexpectedly connected to his iPad. He now closes his iPad case and lays his phone face down to prevent automatic tipping.

Apple’s $ 249 AirPods Pro produce superb noise cancellation in a compact design. But lately, our columnist’s headphones didn’t connect automatically during calls.


Nicole Nguyen / The Wall Street Journal

Some I spoke to put AirPods in their cases for good and switched to traditional wired headphones instead, after deciding that the hustle and bustle of wireless wasn’t worth the freedom.

Apple’s latest software, including updates released last week, recognizes that there are issues that need to be addressed. Updates – iOS 14.6 for iPhone and Big Sur 11.4 for Mac – provide solutions for disconnecting AirPods, sending audio to another device during a call, sending audio to the wrong device and showing too many prompts to connect. An Apple spokesperson said users should install updates for all devices for the best experience and interoperability, and the software should provide a solution to the bugs described above.

Apple is investigating other issues I’ve sent on behalf of readers including a set of AirPods Pro with a single bud that connects, one that takes about a minute to pair with iPhone and AirPods that appear in the audio source menu but are not is not automatically selected.

Still, the current fixes don’t solve the biggest problem: Automatic device switching, which arrived on Apple devices last fall, works as expected, and it’s annoying.

AirPods can automatically switch to nearby devices that are signed into the same iCloud account, a feature that could wreak havoc for an unsuspecting user.


Nicole Nguyen / The Wall Street Journal

Here’s how it’s supposed to play out: You listen to a podcast on your AirPods through iPhone. At the end of the episode, you grab an iPad that’s signed in to the same iCloud account and start watching a movie. The audio switch occurs without you touching the Bluetooth settings. With Macs, it’s a little different: Macs can handle multiple audio streams – a FaceTime call and a YouTube video, for example – so you’ll see an “AirPods nearby” notification on your Mac screen. Click on the pop-up window to move the AirPods connection to the Mac.

On Macs, when audio is playing and AirPods are within Bluetooth range, a pop-up will appear; click to pair.


Nicole Nguyen / The Wall Street Journal

The problem? It can be very painful not to change devices. Ms Clark would leave the feature on, if only Apple could read her mind. “I don’t know how Apple could understand when I want to change devices. I just prefer to control it, ”she said.

A better solution would be a quick way to temporarily turn off switching, something like iPhone screen rotation lock. Currently, you can only choose between automatic switching and the confused and confused option “Connect to iPhone / iPad / Mac … when last connected to this iPhone / iPad / Mac”. (Don’t worry, I’ll explain that to you in a second.)

I have reviewed many wireless headphones and bluetooth connectivity is a challenge for everyone. So it’s no complete surprise that AirPods don’t perform flawlessly all the time. But when you pay extra and get used to a certain level of “magical” Apple transparency, there’s more room for disappointment.


What headphones do you use? Join the conversation below.

I still prefer AirPods to competitors from Jabra, Amazon,

Bose and others. Most of the time, pairing is as easy as putting the headphones in my ears. As for the other occasions – maybe one in five times they don’t connect – I’m waiting for my update.

In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to troubleshoot your pods:

Update your Apple devices

Make sure your device is backed up before updating. On your iPhone or iPad, open the Settings app, go to General, and tap Software Update. On your Mac, open System Preferences and select Software Update. The latest version for iOS and iPadOS is 14.6; the latest for macOS is 11.4.

Your iPhone, iPad and Mac will of course have to be compatible with the latest versions of the operating system to be updated. (And if the device is owned by your company, your IT department will need to agree with you to update the software.)

Your AirPods also have their own firmware. They update automatically when AirPods are in the charging case, plugged into a power source, and near a paired iOS device. You can verify that your headphones are running the latest firmware by going to iPhone settings, then Bluetooth, then tapping the “i” next to your AirPods. The most recent version for AirPods Pro and Second Generation AirPods is 3E751.

Disable automatic device switching

If you’d rather have your AirPods not decide when to switch on their own, turn off automatic device switching on all of your Apple devices.

If you prefer to control what your AirPods are connected to, turn off automatic device switching by going to Bluetooth settings and selecting “Connect to this iPhone / iPad / Mac … When last connected to this iPhone / iPad / Mac .


Nicole Nguyen / The Wall Street Journal

On the iPhone and iPad, with your AirPods connected, open Settings, go to Bluetooth, then tap the “i” next to your AirPods. Select the Connect to this iPhone / iPad setting and tap When last connected to this iPhone / iPad. Repeat on Mac: open System Preferences, go to Bluetooth, and click Options next to your AirPods. Under Sign in to this Mac, select When last signed in to this Mac.

This means that your AirPods will only connect automatically if they have already been paired with this device. If you switch from iPhone to iPad, the next time you open your AirPods, they’ll connect to your iPad (if it’s nearby).

Reset your AirPods

If the AirPods issue persists, reset your AirPods. (Just note that this will also reset your connection and touch control settings.) Put the headphones back into the case and close the cover, then open the cover. On your iPhone or iPad, open Settings, go to Bluetooth, and tap “i” next to your AirPods. Select Forget This Device. Do the same on your Mac: open System Preferences, then Bluetooth. Hover over your AirPods and select the “X” next to it.

Then, press and hold the small button on the back of the case until the status light on the front flashes amber. It may take up to 15 seconds. Place the AirPods near your iOS device and a connection pop-up will appear. Follow the steps on the screen.

Make sure two-factor authentication is enabled

If you want your AirPods to switch automatically, make sure you’re signed in to iCloud on all devices and have two-factor authentication turned on. Open Settings, select your name, and then tap Password & security. You will see an option to enable it, if you haven’t already.

Restart your device

If all else fails, even after re-pairing, turn off your device and then turn it back on. I don’t know why it works, but it works!

Write to Nicole Nguyen at

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