The latest beta of iOS 16 indicates that Apple wants to change the way AirPods firmware updates work. Instead of having to wait for them to choose to update themselves, you may be able to manually trigger the process.
It all comes down to the way firmware information is presented in the Settings app of the paired iPhone.
In iOS 15, it’s easy to see which firmware version your AirPods are running: you tap the button labeled “i” next to the headphones in the iPhone’s Bluetooth menu and scroll down to the section labeled “Version” . But that’s as far as it goes. Tapping Version won’t get you anywhere or provide additional information about that version’s features or changes, it just toggles between the name of the firmware you have and a separate field indicating the firmware on the AirPods case.
However, that’s all going to change. In the fifth beta of iOS 16, as noted by a Reddit user and written by 9to5Mac, you can tap the Version field and go to a brand new submenu.
Don’t get too excited. For now, this menu offers very little information: only the firmware versions for the AirPods and their case, as before. There’s a link below that promises “Firmware details available at…” but for now the URL isn’t going anywhere.
However, the structural change to give firmware its own submenu points to further changes to come. The URL will of course be fixed to detail changes in each firmware update. Our cynical Redditor jokes that he’ll just say “This update fixes bugs and improves performance for your AirPods,” which may not be a million miles from the truth, but it’s better than the total absence of information currently being provided. .
But otherwise, the Version submenu could act as a general resource where users can choose to manually activate (or deliberately deny) firmware updates for their AirPods. Right now, AirPods updates are handled in the background, and figuring out when they’ll happen or how to get them sooner can be confusing.
Given Apple’s preference for its hardware to be updated early and frequently, and its broader philosophy of keeping technical details out of the user’s reach whenever possible, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll have to manually activate every AirPods firmware update. Apple will presumably offer a switch that automatically updates the firmware and has it enabled by default, leaving manual updates to the tech-savvy minority who want to handle it themselves.