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iOS 13's Audio Sharing lets you share music, not earwax. Here’s how to use it

Audio Sharing works with AirPods and Beats.

audio-sharing-with-airpods

Two pairs of AirPods, one audio source? No problem on iOS 13. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Sharing one of your AirPods ($144 at Amazon) with a spouse or friend just so you can both listen to Taylor's latest album is a thing of the past thanks to a new feature in iOS 13.1 and iPadOS. Audio Sharing is a new feature that allows you to stream the audio playing from your iPhone ($699 at Amazon) or iPad ($353 at Amazon) to a friend's pair of AirPods or Beats headphones without having the ick factor of sharing earbuds.

Originally announced for release with iOS 13, Apple opted to move the launch of Audio Sharing to iOS 13.1 and iPadOS, which Apple made available earlier this week -- just five days after iOS 13 became available.

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 iPhone. Here's what you need to know.

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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 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:

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.

audio-sharing-airpods-in-case

Don't worry, this doesn't pair the AirPods to your Apple ID.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

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.

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. 

audio-sharing-airplay-button

Just tap Share Audio to start the process. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

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 device 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 then 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.

control-audio-audio-sharing-ios-13

You're now in control over the volume level. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Controlling audio

Whoever is sharing the audio 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 iOS 13 and iPadOS, including a dark mode, a better keyboard, and the ability to block all unknown callers.

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