Help, I can’t find my AirPods! iOS 15 offers a new way to find them


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AirPods Pro are tiny and easy to lose. iOS 15 makes it easier to find them.

Sarah Tew / CNET

This story is part of Apple event, our comprehensive coverage of the latest news from Apple HQ.

Apples AirPods are practical, but also very small and extremely easy to lose. It turns out that those pesky wired headphones had the only advantage of serving as a physical tether. Apple plans to extend the reach of its electronic cable to your AirPods Pro and AirPods Max with iOS 15 for the iPhone. (Developers can download developer beta iOS 15 now.)

Currently, you can use Apple’s Find My app to help you locate a lost earpiece, but it only works if you are within Bluetooth range of your AirPods, i.e. around 30 feet or 10 meters. And they need to be on the outside of the charging case, which isn’t ideal if your headphones are miles away and in their case. It’s about to change.

Once iOS 15 is officially released later this year (the public beta is expected to arrive in July), you can find your lost AirPods wherever they are, even outside of Bluetooth range. Here’s what we know and what you need to know about how the feature works.


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Find My network is essential for lost AirPods and more

Apple’s Find My Network helps locate a lost or stolen Apple device such as an iPhone, the recently released AirTags and third-party devices like an electric bicycle.

You can read more about how the Find My Network Works Here, but here is the short version. Each Apple device analyzes and locates the Bluetooth signal of Find My compatible devices.

Once located, the Find My Network will send you an alert of the location of your item. Every step of the way is encrypted and the only person who can see your item’s location is you.

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Use the Find My app to mark your AirPods as lost.

Apple / Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

How to activate Lost Mode for AirPods Pro or AirPods Max

I haven’t been able to test the new feature yet, but using Apple’s WWDC demo and my familiarity with the Find My app, I have a pretty good idea of ​​how it works.

After realizing that you’ve lost your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max (sorry owners of standard AirPods, it looks like you’ve been left out for now), open the Find my application on your iPhone. Press the Devices tab, then select your AirPods. A map will show you the last location you got your AirPods, including the time.

Using the map at the bottom of the screen, you can mark AirPods as lost. (You may need to swipe the card up at the bottom of the screen to see all of the available options.)

When Lost Mode is on, the Find My network will start searching for your AirPods. Once found, you will receive an alert on your iPhone with their current location.

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Trigger your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max to play sounds, making them easy to find.

Apple / Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

You know where your AirPods are, but now what?

After arriving at the location of your lost AirPods, you have two options. You can use the Find My app and trigger your AirPods to start playing a sound that gets louder as it plays. Apple said it doesn’t matter whether your AirPods are inside the case or not. You can choose to play the sound on the left, right or both headphones.

The other option is to use the same proximity view as Apple’s AirTag trackers. If you have an iPhone 11 or newer, the proximity view will show you the direction and distance, down to the exact inches you need to retrieve your headphones.

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Your iPhone will help you remember your AirPods when you leave them behind.

Apple / Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

Separation alerts make it hard to lose your AirPods in the first place

Apple also announced another new Find My feature for AirPods called Separation Alerts. As the name suggests, the Find My app will alert you when you’ve left your AirPods behind, hopefully saving you from having to go on a scavenger hunt.

The integration of AirPods with Find My is just one of the many new features announced by Apple. For starters, the iPhone gets a a whole bunch of new FaceTime features, and the IPad gets better at multitasking. See everything Apple has announced on WWDC in our roundup here.

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