How to use AirPods on your Android phone

ByDaniel Camilo 2019-06-05 3525

Can you use AirPods or AirPods 2 on an Android smartphone? Of course, but without the same integration as on the iPhone. With the help of applications, we still manage to keep some of the features of Apple's Bluetooth headsets. We will explain how.

Announced in September 2016, the Apple AirPods were renewed in March 2019. Why bother when it is obviously an optimized product for iPhone and iPad? Well, precisely because it's not so much the case as that, and they can be used more or less normally on Android.

AirPods have popularized the category of true wireless headphones and are truly wireless: there is no cable between the two headphones. They each include a battery and a microphone, allowing them to be used completely independently.

It also involves constraints: it is easier to lose one of the two AirPods, and it must be admitted that it doesn't seem very smart to wear headphones with excessive rods whose wire seems to have been cut. However, if you want to benefit from the independent side, they are not to be neglected.

Pairing: a little less easy than on iOS

The AirPods 2 include a homemade chip, the Apple H1, which is responsible for managing Bluetooth 5 pairing in a transparent way or supporting the "Say Siri" request. On the iPhone, simply open their case - which also acts as a charging station - near the phone, and a pop-up window appears.

On Android, you have to go through a classic Bluetooth combination, after pressing the button on the back of the case for a long time. During our tests, they were detected the first time like this.

Once associated, they work as expected, at least for basic uses. AirPods initialize when they are taken out of their charging box. The integrated accelerometer is taken into account and a double tap on one of the two headphones can be made to pause the music and restart it, or to take the call during a call.

As on the iPhone, you can leave one earpiece in the case, and the other will then switch to mono. If you listen to podcasts and want to stay connected to the outside world, that's a good point!

On the other hand, proximity sensors, which detect the presence of AirPods in your ears, do not work, depriving the headphones of one of their nice features: the automatic pause of the audio when one is removed, and its resumption when one is put back in place.

Replace Siri with Google Assistant

The AirPods, on iOS, are integrated into Siri. The interface allows, for each headset, to assign the pause of the playback, or the start of the virtual assistant. However, some applications allow you to change wizards and associate a gesture with Google Assistant in particular.

This is the case with the Assistant Trigger application, which also promises to run Google Assistant to display the battery level of the AirPods in the notification bar of your phone and to turn off the music when one of them is removed from your ear. However, these two features do not work with the second generation at the moment. However, it is still possible to access the battery level of the AirPods by clicking on the notification.

Once installed, the application allows you to associate 2 double tap (or a quad tap) on one of the headphones with Google Assistant's activation. However, our first trials were a little random and with a bit of latency.

It is impossible to differentiate between left and right AirPods as on iOS, one for playback, the other for the assistant.

Note that the AirBattery application is also very well known and offers more or less the same thing, but the experience was much less conclusive in our case with a very random battery display and fewer possibilities.

A less fluid, but satisfying experience

The basic functions are therefore provided and the experience is that of standard Bluetooth headsets. Without the little extras of iOS integration, Airpods still behave relatively reliably. During our tests, we noted some stalls and whims, perhaps a little more frequently than on iOS, probably due to the absence of Apple's OS optimizations.

The sound is that of EarPods, in a long tradition of neutral headphones, which can be found flat according to your preferences. As I have discussed with fussy audiophiles, AirPods are not made to listen to classical music in FLAC. On the other hand, they offer a quality quite sufficient for more "pop" genres in reasonable encodings, my music collection being in AAC 256 kb/s or MP3 320 kb/s.

However, you have to do without the little extras of the iOS experience. Intelligent pairing is absent and proximity sensors are inactive on the second generation as mentioned above.

Finally, we are therefore quite far from the fluidity of the iOS experience. Unlike HomePod, however, AirPods are at least usable on Android, with most of their features and software solutions more or less usable for what is not natively supported. Afterwards, you will certainly find a much better quality/price ratio by looking at what other brands offer in true wireless headphones.

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