Your AirPods 3 just got a firmware update with bug fixes and improvements — but will you even notice?

Airpods 3 With Case Right Earbud Lying In Front Of Case
(Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Apple has released a new firmware update for the AirPods 3 (6A317), which includes bug fixes and improvements for the wireless earbuds.

While Apple, as always, remains coy on what the new firmware brings to the third-generation AirPods, you’re likely going to want to update for better stability when listening to your favorite tunes or podcasts.

While working at the Genius Bar in an Apple Store, AirPods firmware updates were one of the job's most confusing and ominous aspects. Apple does not provide any official information on how the process actually works (probably because the beauty of the wireless earbuds is just how seamlessly they work) and the company doesn’t want users faffing about to update.

Instead, AirPods automatically update over the air when connected to an iOS device (there’s no rhyme or reason to explain when the process happens). If you want to force the update to get access to the latest firmware sooner rather than later, connecting the AirPods via a Lightning or USB-C cable and placing them on charge while paired to an Apple device should do the trick. Again, there’s no official documentation on how long this process actually takes, but when I worked at Apple, we would often tell customers to leave the AirPods on charge for at least one hour to make sure the update was installed.

Checking your firmware

The only way to confirm your AirPods 3 have updated to 6A317 is by checking the firmware of your AirPods via a connected Apple device.

To do this on an iPhone or iPad, open Settings, then Bluetooth, and click the ‘i’ icon next to your paired AirPods. Now scroll down until you see the firmware version under the About section. If you want to check from your Mac, the process is similar: Hold the Option key while clicking System Information under the Apple menu, click Bluetooth, and then check for the firmware version under your AirPods. 

For Mac users on macOS Ventura or later, the process is more akin to iOS. Click the Apple menu, then System Settings, followed by Bluetooth, and click the ‘i’ icon next to your AirPods.

The best thing about AirPods is just how easy they are to use, and that’s why there’s no real reason to constantly check the firmware version unless Apple drops a major update like when Adaptive Audio was added to the AirPods Pro 2. If, for any reason, you have issues with your AirPods connectivity or the earbuds go months without updating firmware automatically, head to your nearest Apple Store to get support.

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John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.