How to switch music on AirPods headphones

AirPods - the first wireless headphones for Apple devices. They were first introduced in 2016 together with the seventh generation iPhone. As of the beginning of 2023, the latest version of the headphones is the third version, built on the W1 chip.

There are no identifying marks on the AirPods case indicating the presence of a touch control panel. Various methods are used to control, switch music, and adjust the volume on the headphones, which will be discussed in this material.


Method #1

AirPods can be controlled by tapping on the body of the earphone where the touch sensor is located. The way music tracks are switched depends on the version.

Before using the headphones, make sure they are properly paired with an iOS-based device. Then, take out at least one earphone from the case and insert it into your ear.

By default, in any version of AirPods, both inserted earphones in the ears start playing music tracks. If one earphone is removed, the playback of the music automatically pauses. If the earphones are taken off or put in the case, the track playback ends.

You can check the settings for these functions in the "Settings" menu, under the "Bluetooth" section, and select the device "AirPods". In the "Auto-detection" section, the toggle should be in the "on" position (green indication). If this function is disabled, the music will continuously play in the earphones, regardless of whether one or both earphones are inserted.

AirPods 1/2

The first and second generation Apple wireless earphones support only double tapping on the touch sensor. For the first generation, tapping is used to activate the voice personal assistant Siri, while for AirPods 2, it is used to switch music tracks.

To reassign the function, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the "Settings" menu.
  2. Select the "Bluetooth" section.
  3. Go to the settings of the connected AirPods.
  4. In the "Double-tap on AirPods" subsection, select actions for the left and right earphones.
  5. For example, leave voice assistant activation on the right earphone, and choose "Play/Pause", "Next track", "Previous track" on the left earphone.

AirPods 3

The third revision of AirPods has a force sensor that can be used for playback control. To pause/play the playback, press the stem of the earphone. To skip to the next track, double press the stem, and to go back to the previous track, triple press the stem.

To activate the voice assistant Siri, press and hold the stem of the earphone for a few seconds. Then, you can ask Siri to switch tracks from your library or select a specific music track.

AirPods Pro

The first and second generation of AirPods Pro have different control mechanisms. The first version has a force sensor, while the second version has a touch sensor. The main actions differ only in the way the control mechanism is interacted with.

For example, the "Stop/Play" function is performed by pressing the stem of the earphone, switching to the next track with double pressing the stem, and going back to the previous track by triple pressing. The main difference in the second version is support for volume adjustment using swipe up and down gestures to increase and decrease the volume, respectively.

Method #2

As mentioned earlier, music on AirPods can be switched using the voice assistant on iPhone and iPad. If the voice command is not activated, go to "Settings" and select the "Siri and Search" section.

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Select the desired option for activating the assistant. You can choose three ways by moving the toggle to the right.
  2. To switch the music, activate Siri using any of the previously activated methods.
  3. Use your voice to give a command, such as "Next song" or "Next track". After a couple of seconds, the device's screen will display the player interface, and the command will be executed.

The only downside to this method is that the voice assistant does not work with all music players, but most users will not notice this as they use Apple Music or Spotify.

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