Why Don't I Have Spatial Audio On AirPods? There Are A Few Possibilities
The latest audio upgrade for Apple's AirPods offers a surround sound experience that'll make your go-to shows even better. If you've been testing out the new features in Apple's iOS 14 update since it rolled out on Wednesday, Sept. 16, but you still don't have spatial audio on AirPods, don't give up just yet. There are a couple possibilities why the new feature might not be popping up — here's what you should check.
First off, make sure you have iOS 14 downloaded on your phone. The next issue is a super easy check, but unfortunately it's not as easily fixable: Spatial audio only works with Apple's AirPods Pro. It isn't compatible with the first or second generation AirPods, so if that's what you have, you're out of luck until you purchase a new pair. If you do have AirPods Pro, but it's still not working then it could be one of two things: your iPhone or your AirPods Pro firmware.
To use spatial audio with iOS 14, you need an iPhone 7 or later, so if you have the first generation iPhone SE or the iPhone 6S, your update doesn't include the audio feature. If you do have both the AirPods Pro and an iPhone 7 or later, then the reason you aren't seeing spatial audio yet is because you need to update the firmware on your AirPods.
You can check to see if your firmware needs updating by going to Settings > General > Bluetooth and locating your AirPods on the list. Next, tap the "i" icon next to the AirPods Pro and see what the firmware version is. For spatial audio to work, you'll need to have AirPods Pro firmware 38283, so if yours doesn't say that, it's time to update. Tom's Guide points out that firmware updates usually happen automatically, so there's no button you can tap to start the update yourself. Instead, you'll need to pair your AirPods with your iPhone, put them in the charging case, keep the lid open, and charge the case, too. Leave your iPhone near the AirPods and wait. The AirPods should automatically update the firmware during this process.
After some time passes, check the firmware with the same process as above to see if your AirPods installed the update. Assuming they did, you'll be able to use spatial audio. To do that, swipe down on the top-right edge of your iPhone to go to the Control Center and long-press on your AirPods settings. From there, you can tap the "Spatial Audio" on and start playing your favorite jam or a video to test it out. The sound will move along with you, giving a three-dimensional sound like you're in a movie theater. To turn it off, tap the same "Spatial Audio" toggle you did to turn it on.
If you don't have AirPods Pro, you can still utilize the other features from the iOS 14 update, which include automatic device switching and battery notifications. If you've got second generation AirPods or Powerbeats headphones, you can automatically switch between your Apple devices without needing to manually connect them. You'll also get new battery notifications for your AirPods at the top of your device, which will alert you when it's time to charge.
There are plenty of new features to explore in iOS 14 in addition to AirPods upgrades, so have fun discovering all the new tricks your phone picked up with the update.