Don’t own an iPhone, iPad or Mac? Apple stores can now update your AirPods firmware

An iPhone, iPad or Mac is needed to refresh AirPods software, but folks without one can now visit Apple’s retail stores to have their AirPods firmware updated.

Exterior of Apple's glass cube retail store on Manhattan
You no longer have an excuse for using outdated AirPods software | Image: Apple
  • What’s happening? Installing AirPods firmware requires an Apple device, but non-Apple users can now bring their earbuds to an Apple store to run an update.
  • Why care? People who don’t own an iPhone, iPad or Mac now have a new option to ensure that the firmware powering their AirPods is up to date.
  • What to do? If you don’t own an Apple device, bring your AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max to an Apple Store or an authorized service provider.

You can now update your AirPods firmware at Apple stores

The AirPods can be used as regular Bluetooth earphones (without Apple’s magic features such as iCloud pairing and automatic device switching) on non-Apple devices like Windows or Linux computers or Android smartphones and tablets.

Apple has never bothered to provide software support for updating AirPods firmware on foreign platforms. However, the Cupertino giant has now come up with a solution: Bring your AirPods to an Apple store to have your firmware updated.

Apple’s acknowledged this change in an updated AirPods firmware support page:

If you don’t have an Apple device nearby, you can set up an appointment at an Apple Store or with an Apple Authorized Service Provider to update your firmware.

The solution may be impractical, but it fixes the problem for those without an iPhone, iPad or Mac. Also, Apple users who might switch to Android can now rest assured that they won’t miss essential firmware updates for their AirPods.

AirPods firmware updates rarely bring new features, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them, as they contain bug fixes and performance improvements.

Why doesn’t Software Update handle AirPods?

AirPods updates are something of a mystery. The iPhone maker explains that new AirPods firmware is delivered automatically while the earbuds are charging in their case, with the paired Apple iPhone, iPad or Mac on Wi-Fi and in Bluetooth range.

This prompts your Apple device to download and install the latest AirPods firmware.

However, there’s no telling when that might happen, and you cannot force an update. It may take days, even weeks, to get the latest software because AirPods firmware is gradually rolled out instead of hitting all users simultaneously.

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