AirPods get a rare developer beta with better Automatic Switching, more

Air Pods Pro Unboxed
Air Pods Pro Unboxed (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has released a new AirPods beta for developers to install.
  • Developers won't be able to downgrade once the beta has been installed.
  • The entire AirPods lineup is supported bar the original AirPods..

Apple has made a new AirPods software beta available to developers, allowing them to test the update on their earbuds and headphones before it is rolled out to the public.

The new beta is available via the Apple developer website and is compatible with AirPods 2nd generation, AirPods 3rd generation, AirPods Pro, and AirPods Max. Those who have the OG AirPods are out of luck, however.

In terms of new features, Apple says this update is all about "improvements to Automatic Switching and various bug and stability fixes." It also notes that the beta software cannot be removed once it has been installed, something that developers should take note of before embarking on this update.

AirPods beta firmware for Apple Developer Program members enables development of features on iOS and macOS for AirPods. This program also enables debugging of issues by Apple with on-in log collection. This release includes improvements to Automatic Switching and various bug and stability fixes.

Apple's new AirPods beta comes days after the release of iOS 16 and other betas to developers. While AirPods beta releases are rare, Apple makes other beta versions of its updates available ahead of public release for various reasons. The key one is to allow developers to test their apps against a future update to ensure they will continue to work, while also allowing them to test new functionality. In the case of this AirPods beta, however, it seems more likely a way for Apple to get more eyes — and ears — on an update that will likely roll out to the masses within weeks.

The AirPods lineup features some of the best iPhone earbuds and headphones on the market, thanks in part to their ability to receive software updates that improve features and fix bugs. The Automatic Switching feature in particular has suffered from its fair share of issues, with users sometimes reporting that they either switch too readily or don't do it at all.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.