There's a lot to like about, but one of the coolest features that has stayed under the radar since its release last year is Audio Sharing. The somewhat allows you to stream the audio from a video or music with someone else, through their or headphones.
Yes, that means you get to keep your AirPods in your ears, and they get to use theirs -- the ick factor is no more, thanks to Audio Sharing.
Audio Sharing isn't as straightforward as I thought it'd be, but once you figure it out, it's as simple as the first time you paired your AirPods to your. Here's what you need to know.
It's not limited to AirPods
Apple may sometimes refer to the feature as "Audio Sharing with AirPods," but it's not limited to just AirPods. In fact, it's any pair of wireless headphones or earbuds that are powered by the H1 or W1 processor. Here's the complete list:
Which iPhone and iPad models will work?
Even if your iPhone or iPad supports iOS 13, you may not be able to use Audio Sharing with AirPods. Here's the current list of supported Apple devices:
- iPhone 8 Plus ( $1,000 at Walmart ) ,
- iPhone X ( $899 at Amazon )
- iPhone XS Max ( $1,000 at Amazon ) ,
- iPhone XR ( $749 at Amazon )
- (second generation or newer)
- (fifth generation or newer)
- iPad Air ( $170 at Walmart ) (third generation)
- iPad Mini ( $270 at Walmart ) (fifth generation)
- iPod Touch ( $200 at Walmart ) (seventh generation or later)
How to use Audio Sharing
There are actually a few different ways to go about sharing the audio from your iPhone or iPad with a compatible pair of headphones or earbuds. It all depends on whether or not the person you want to share audio with has AirPods, and if they're already listening to something.
AirPods that are in the case
The easiest method is if your friend has AirPods that are still in the case and connected to their device. Just open the charging case lid, and the AirPods will connect to their iPhone or iPad.
With your AirPods connected to your iPhone or iPad, place your friend's open AirPods case next to your device and wait for a Temporarily Share Audio prompt to show up on the screen.
Tap the button, then follow the instructions, which includes holding in the button on the AirPods case for a few seconds. Don't worry, you're not pairing their AirPods to your Apple ID -- this is strictly temporary.
AirPods that are in use
If your friend is using their AirPods and you want to share the audio you're listening to, open Control Center (swipe from the top-right corner of your screen) on your iPhone or iPad and tap on the AirPlay icon in the Now Playing shortcut.
Just below your AirPods or Beats should be a Share Audio button. Tap it, and then place yours and your friend's phone or tablet next to each other.
After a moment, the Share Audio prompt will show up -- select Share Audio and then ask your friend to tap Join on their device.
Sharing with Beats headphones
If your friend is using Beats headphones, have them turn on the headphones and connect them to their iPhone or iPad. Next, ask them to press the power button on the headphones (Apple says for less than a second), and then move your iPhone or iPad closer to their device.
A Temporarily Share Audio prompt will show up, select it then follow the rest of the prompts.
Who's in control of the audio?
Whoever is sharing the audio from their device will have control over the volume for each connected headphones or earbuds. Adjust the volume either by using the volume keys on the side of the phone, or by opening Control Center and long-pressing on the volume slider. Notice the small icon showing two people on the volume slider? That lets you know you're sharing audio and control both devices.
After you long-press on the volume slider in Control Center, it will display two volume sliders for you to independently adjust the volume of each connected device independently.
Audio Sharing is just one of many new features in, including a , a , and the ability to . There are plenty of , as well, and the .
Originally published Aug. 2, 2019.
Update, Jan. 20: Adds new information.