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 very front of the Settings app when they're connected, instead of being buried down in the Bluetooth section of the app.
There are really useful options for your AirPods in here, such as customizing what their controls do; tweaking how their charging works; making sure that Find My is on so they're harder to lose; changing the ear detection in case that doesn't work well for you; taking the Ear Fit Test for AirPods Pro and AirPods Pro 2; and setting up Personalized Spatial Audio for the Pro models, AirPods 3rd Gen or AirPods Max.
A lot of people will have owned one of the best AirPods models for years and never stumbled onto this screen. Before now, to find this screen you would have to to the Settings app, then Bluetooth, then tap the little 'i' symbol on the right – just tapping the name of your AirPods wouldn't take you there.
Now you can't miss it when you open the Settings app, so hopefully this will make people even happier with their Apple earbuds, though many will be happy just with the default options.
However, there are still customization options for AirPods that aren't available in this screen, so it's not like AirPods are done with hidden options just yet…
Let's have EQ and Transparency tweaks, Apple
The one major thing I'd like to see here is the ability to tweak the EQ, or at least a direct shortcut to do that. At the moment, Apple doesn't offer a way to tweak the EQ for just a particular set of AirPods – you can only make an EQ tweak that affects all music from the Apple Music app whatever you're listening on.
I'd love for Apple to provide an option to tweak the sound on AirPods models individually, but in the meantime I'd settle for there just being a being a shortcut that takes you from the AirPods settings screen directly to the Music settings, so at least people who hoped to find this option know where to go instead.
And the other option I'd like to be more visible is the ability to customize the Transparency mode – I've written before about how discovering the hidden controls for this made a huge difference for me. And while the new Adaptive Transparency mode on AirPods sounds great, and like it may solve some of my issues with it – and is one of the biggest reasons to get AirPods Pro 2 on its own – that only works with one brand-new model of AirPods. Those with original AirPods Pro and AirPods Max may still want to tweak the mode, like I did.
However, the ability to tweak the Transparency mode remains locked a couple of layers deep in the Audio accessibility settings. The good news is that the AirPods setting screen contains an Accessibility shortcut… but you still then need to tap 'Audio Accessibility Settings', and then 'Headphone Accommodations', which takes you to a blank screen at first (you need to turn the switch on 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 more focused on those with hearing difficulties, and has multiple small tweaks you can make. But I'd love to see a simpler version make it there in the future, now that maybe more people will be thinking about what tweaks to make to their AirPods.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at T3.com, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.