Apple is allegedly making AirPods update process easier — but there’s a catch

The AirPods Pro wireless earbuds laid up against red backdrop
(Image credit: Brian Coule/Tom's Guide)

One of the few bugbears we have about Apple's AirPods family is the way in which the fairly frequent firmware updates are delivered. 

Presumably to keep things intuitive, firmware is updated over the air and invisibly, but the flip side of this is that those keen to try the latest features have no way of getting to the front of the queue. They simply have to wait until the AirPods automatically update, with no indication that updates are available or currently being downloaded and installed. 

In other words, if you’ve read about a new update being pushed out that you really want to try, you just have to pop your AirPods in their charging case, put it on to charge and hope they get updated. 

But according to the leaker @StellaFudge on Twitter, that won’t be the case for long, with Apple “launching an AirPods Firmware Updater tool."

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As you can see, however, there’s a fairly big catch. According to the leaker, unless you work for Apple, you won’t be able to use it yourself, as it’s intended for technicians diagnosing and fixing problems, not regular owners who just want the latest features immediately. “It's also only intended for people who use AirPods with non-Apple stuff, or AirPods that got mismatched firmware,” the tipster continued.

In a later tweet, @StellaFudge clarified that the alleged Firmware Updater tool is only compatible with AirPods Pro.

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It’s not really clear how this would work, as only AirPods Max have a diagnostic port for wired connections. The Apple Watch ditched this with the most recent version, but replaced it with a 60.5GHz wireless module for diagnostics instead

Nonetheless, if this is true and Apple does have a system in place for wirelessly forcing firmware updates rather than playing the waiting game, then hopefully it’s something that can eventually be given a user-friendly reskin and pushed out to iPhones for consumers to do themselves without official intervention. 

In the meantime, you’ll just have to follow the general instructions of how to update your AirPods and hope for the best. And if you're in the market for the AirPods or other headphones check out our best wireless earbuds list. 

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.