Apple AirPods don’t get updates as often as the iPhone, iPad or Mac. So, this week’s release of new firmware is unusual, to say the least. In fact, there’s only been one AirPods beta software update ever. In other words, this is very much the exception to the rule.

So, what will it do, which AirPods is it for, and how do you get it?

For almost all the AirPods

Do you have the original, first-gen AirPods? Well, this update is not for you, sorry. But if you have the second-generation or the latest, third-generation in-ears, then this firmware will be coming your way. It’s also for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. In other words, it’s for every pair of AirPods that Apple currently sells.

It’s not for everyone… yet

The release happened this week, but right now it’s just for developers. To get it you need to be a developer (obviously) and to be running the beta of iOS 16 on your iPhone, or macOS Ventura on a Mac. You pair the AirPods with your iPhone, for instance, and use Xcode 14 beta on the Mac to update the headphones.

Apple says it could take up to 24 hours for the beta firmware to install itself.


What does it do?

Actually, we’re in luck. Apple usually doesn’t provide much guidance when it releases beta software for items like AirPods, but this time it’s said that the beta will improve Automatic Switching. That, as you’ll know, is the way when you switch from the iPhone to the iPad, say, your earbuds are clever enough to know, and connect to the right device accordingly. That’s good, then.

There are also bug fixes and improvements to stability, Apple says.

It may also be laying the foundations for the upcoming Personalized Spatial Audio feature that’s on its way this fall, but that’s not mentioned.

When can I get it?

If you’re not a developer, you’ll need to wait, possibly until the public beta of iOS 16, which Apple has promised for July, but more likely until iOS 16 is on general release this fall.

Once it’s there, future beta updates will be installed automatically.

One final note: if you’re eager to get it as soon as possible, bear in mind that once installed, you can’t downgrade.


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