Apple just made it much easier to find your missing AirPods. In a post-iOS 15 release firmware update, your earbuds or headphones can now be located in the Find My app with the help of millions of other Apple devices.
You could already see the last location your AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max connected to your iPhone, but that might not help much if you've strayed far. Now, when you activate Lost Mode for your misplaced AirPods, nearby iPhone, iPads and Macs can join the search party via Bluetooth.
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If your AirPods come in Bluetooth range of the another device in the Apple's vast ecosystem, you'll be notified of their location. Then, using the revamped Find My system, you can be led to them.
In addition to Find My network support, you can now get a notification when you leave your AirPods behind somewhere. This feature works for a number of Apple devices, though I'm particularly eased by the added Find My app in watchOS 8, so my Apple Watch can tell me when I've abandoned my iPhone someplace I shouldn't have.
With the exception of AirPods Max, AirPods are smaller and therefore even easier to lose than an iPhone. They can slip under a cushion at a cafe, between car seats or be covered by miscellaneous objects in a drawer. And unfortunately, Apple earbuds are type of device that's difficult to recover, since there's not much that distinguishes one person's AirPods from another's.
These new features should up your chances of reuniting with your AirPods when you lose them. It's not foolproof, but it's better than only seeing the last place your headphones fell in range of your iPhone. They're some of the best wireless earbuds, so you don't want to be replacing them with any unnecessary regularity.
When I head out, I tend to intentionally leave my AirPods at home, since the buds are prone to following out of my ears. I've been trying to break up with wireless earbuds since I just don't seem to have the right ear shape for them. I tried AirPods Pro for running a few months ago and I spent more time chasing down the plummeted buds than working out, so I've opted for bone conduction headphones for running.
When I'm wearing my pricey AirPods Pro outdoors, I fear futzing with my hair or jostling on a run will send them flying somewhere I can't recover them, especially in spots where the grass is overgrown. I also wouldn't put it past me to not realize I've lost one while walking down a busy street. Do I necessarily want to stick something back in my ear that's landed on New York City sidewalk? No, but I think this new feature delivers more of an insurance policy for my AirPods the next time I want to take them on the go.
You can't force an AirPods firmware update, but you can check whether you have the version 4A400 that supports the latest Find My tools by going to Settings > General > [Name of your AirPods.]
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Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.