Friday, October 22, 2021

How to use left-behind alerts, community finding, & pairing lock with AirPods Pro & AirPods Max

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There are a slew of new features for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max in the Find My app, including left-behind alerts, community finding, and pairing lock. Here’s how to use them all.

Since launch, AirPods, along with AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and many other devices have been able to be found with the Find My app. But with iOS 15, Apple has enabled new functionality for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.

With Find My, you’ll be able to get left behind alerts if you should head out without your AirPods, and you’ll be able to rely on the Find My Network to help locate them.

Update your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max

Apple is annoyingly opaque about how to update AirPods Pro firmware. There is no manual upgrade button, so you’re left just trying to force it to update on its own.

The best tips for doing so include putting the AirPods Pro earbuds in the wireless charging case and connecting the case to power. As long as your phone or tablet is nearby, this should cause the update to start.

Find the AirPods Pro or AirPods Pro Max firmware version in Settings

Find the AirPods Pro or AirPods Pro Max firmware version in Settings

To use the new Find My abilities, you need to ensure you’re on firmware version 4A400 or later.

Left behind alerts

Left behind alerts are new in iOS 15, and for more than just AirPods. You can put a left behind alert on an AirTag, an iPad, and more.

Left Behind alerts in the Find My app

Left behind alerts in the Find My app

To turn on left behind alerts:

  • Open the Find My app
  • Tap on your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max under the devices tab
  • Tap Notify When Left Behind under Notifications

This is also where you can white-list locations. You may not want to get a notification every time you leave your house without your AirPods so you can white-list your home. Then you’ll get notifications everywhere but at your own home. You can add multiple locations.

Precision finding

Find My would previously afford basic location abilities for your AirPods. The last-known location is pinned on the map, and you could force them to make a noise if you were within range.

With iOS 15 and the new firmware, there’s a precision tracking feature. When you tap Find, a ring of glowing dots animates as your phone tries to find your AirPods.

Find My tracking

Find My Tracking

It will tell if you are near, far, or “here” to guide you towards your earbuds.

Find My Network

This is sent anonymously in the background without the sender ever being made aware.

How to use Lost Mode

How to use Lost Mode

  • Open the Find My app
  • Tap on your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max under the devices tab
  • Tap Activate under Mark as Lost

When marked as lost, it also enabled Pairing Lock, preventing anyone else from adding the AirPods to their account. Lost Mode also lets you provide contact information, so if anyone finds them, they can know how best to reach you to return your headphones.

Otherwise, with the location marked in the Find My app, you can go to its location and use the precision finding feature to track them down.

Ongoing issues

There have been sporadic reports recently of the new features not showing up for some users and others seeing the left-behind alerts as “not supported” on AirPods Pro.

Apple will likely issue a bug fix eventually, but in the interim, the best solution appears to be a reset and re-pair procedure on impacted AirPods. Failing that, try signing out and then back in to your iCloud account.

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