It’s only been a month since Apple released its first firmware update for the AirPods Pro, and now it’s back with yet another one, this time not only for the AirPods Pro, but also for the second-generation AirPods that were released back in March.
The original AirPods Pro shipped with firmware 2B584, and were quickly updated to 2B588 only two weeks after their release. Meanwhile, Apple’s second-generation AirPods were running firmware version 2A364, which appears to have been pushed out in early September, around the time of Apple’s major iPhone event.
This week, however, it looks like Apple is unifying both its standard AirPods and its AirPods Pro onto the same firmware version, 2C54, which began appearing on people’s AirPods on Monday.
Apple doesn’t actually offer any kind of release notes for AirPods firmware updates. In fact, it doesn’t really do anything to announce the updates at all, since they don’t require any user interaction to install.
So it’s difficult to say what’s new, although obviously bug fixes and performance improvements are always rolled into any updates that Apple releases.
However, we’ve seen comments that some users were experiencing problems with lower volume on the second-gen AirPods, particularly with non-Apple devices after the 2A364 build arrived in September, and there have been some indications that the 2C54 update fixes this.
Other improvements seem to be much more minor. There have been many reports that the previous 2B588 update for the AirPods Pro worsened the active noise cancellation, and so far 2C54 doesn’t seem to have fixed this — some users are reporting a slight improvement, but still not as good as the original firmware from when AirPods Pro were first released.
There are also reports that the balance and audio profile have been tweaked slightly, probably as a result of changes to Apple’s “Adaptive EQ” feature on the AirPods Pro. We can confirm that the update does seem to improve the bass slightly on certain genres — it’s especially noticeable with classic and progressive rock — but it’s a pretty subtle change, and we can see how opinions could be mixed on whether it’s an improvement or not, and is going to depend on how well your AirPods Pro seal in your ears and the type of music that you listen to.
We’ve also heard anecdotal reports of improved battery life with the new firmware, as well as fixes to various issues such as connection delays and ear detection failing, although we haven’t experienced any of these ourselves.
How to Update Your AirPods
Unlike most Apple firmware updates, there’s actually no user interaction required to update your AirPods or AirPods Pro. In fact, there’s really nothing you can do to even force them to update. Apple has designed the update to happen transparently in the background as long as the AirPods are in their case and connected to your iPhone or iPad.
Note that it’s not necessary for the AirPods to be charging, nor does your iPhone have to be on Wi-Fi — the update is so small that it can be easily installed over a cellular data connection. Some users have reported that connecting the AirPods to a charger makes the update install more quickly, but really it seems to be more about how recently you’ve been using the AirPods and simply ensuring that you leave them in the case for at least 10-15 minutes.
That said, here’s how you can check what version of the firmware is currently running on your AirPods:
- If your AirPods or AirPods Pro are in their case, open the lid to wake them up and connect them to your iPhone or iPad.
- Open the iOS Settings app.
- Tap General.
- Tap About.
- Scroll down to find your AirPods or AirPods Pro; they should appear at the bottom fo the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth section as long as they’re connected.
- Tap on your AirPods or AirPods Pro
- Look under Firmware Version to see what version of firmware is installed.
If you don’t have the latest version installed yet, however, all you can really do is wait for it to install automatically. Simply leave the AirPods in the case and it should happen while your iPhone is sleeping.
Unfortunately, this automatic installation procedure also means there’s nothing you can do to prevent an update to the latest firmware on your AirPods or AirPods Pro. So if a firmware update breaks something, or changes the soundstage in a way that you don’t like, there’s not much you can do to stop it from happening. Users have reported getting their AirPods swapped out at the Genius Bar due to issues like the poorer ANC, only to find a day later that they’d automatically updated to the latest firmware, creating the same problem all over again.