Apple releases iOS 10.3 beta to developers with ‘Find My AirPods’ feature

“Apple’s AirPods free you from the tyranny and tangle of corded headphones,” Joanna Stern reports for The Wall Street Journal. “They also trap you in a constant fear that you’ll lose them and have to pony up $69 to replace one.”

“On Tuesday, however, Apple announced a feature that uses the earphones’ wireless technology to track their whereabouts when you inevitably misplace the tiny things,” Stern reports. “It’s integrated into the Find My iPhone app in iOS 10.3, which reaches software developers Tuesday and will soon be available to the public.”

“Due to the AirPods’ small size and battery constraints, there’s no built-in GPS connection, so you can’t remotely pinpoint their exact whereabouts. To overcome that, Apple relies on the GPS in your iPhone or iPad, like most dedicated lost-item Bluetooth trackers,” Stern reports. “Also, you’ll need your phone with you for this to work. Even though AirPods work with only an Apple Watch, the watch’s GPS won’t help.”

iPhone 7 with Apple's AirPods
iPhone 7 with Apple’s AirPods

“Apple has added an alarm to help find earbuds in proximity. Tap ‘Play Sound’ in the iOS app and the AirPod will start chirping,” Stern reports. “In the app, you can specify which AirPod you’d like to sound. Only problem? If the AirPod’s battery runs out, it’ll remain silent.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is a nice feature that would be nicer if you could at least make you AirPods chirp from your Apple Watch.

AirPods are Apple’s most Apple-like product in years – they just work – January 13, 2017
Apple’s AirPods grab 26% of wireless headphone market share – January 11, 2017
The success of Airpods could add $10 billion to Apple’s market cap – January 10, 2017
Apple AirPods are imperfect, but surprisingly awesome – January 4, 2017
Canadian Reviewer reviews Apple AirPods: ‘Very cool’ – December 28, 2016
I really hate how much I love Apple’s AirPods – December 28, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook tours New York Stock Exchange, calls AirPods ‘a runaway success’ – December 28, 2016
How to find out when Apple Stores have AirPods in stock – December 28, 2016
AirPods kick off Apple’s battle for our ears – December 23, 2016
Yahoo’s Pogue reviews Apple AirPods: Far more elegant and slick than others – December 23, 2016
Wall Street Journal’s Best Wireless Earbuds: AirPods, ‘Apple’s best new product in years’ – December 22, 2016
Apple AirPods are very cool, but I am returning them – here’s why – December 22, 2016
Marathoner tests Apple AirPods on 10K run – December 19, 2016
Rolling Stone reviews Apple AirPods: ‘Surprisingly awesome’ – December 14, 2016
Apple AirPods could arrive in stores as early as November 17th – November 10, 2016
Apple’s AirPods remain on track to launch this year, sources say – November 2, 2016
Apple AirPods may be delayed into 2017 – November 1, 2016
Apple delays AirPod rollout – October 26, 2016
Survey: 12% of U.S. consumers say they’ll buy Apple AirPods; extra $3 billion in revenue – September 29, 2016
Bill Atkinson: Why Apple’s AirPods are the best place for Siri – September 28, 2016
Apple’s response to Amazon Echo: AirPods – September 20, 2016
Apple’s AirPods make Google Glass look even more ridiculous (if that’s even possible) – September 19, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook: AirPods won’t fall out of your ears (with video) – September 14, 2016
Why Silicon Valley is all wrong about Apple’s AirPods – September 17, 2016
What AirPods can tell us about Apple’s future – September 12, 2016
Hands-on with Apple’s new AirPods: Stayed in my ears, sounded awesome – September 10, 2016
Apple and a truly wireless future: AirPods are just the start – September 10, 2016
Whoever makes the first AirPods strap is going to get rich – September 8, 2016
Apple patents biometric sensor-packed health monitoring earphones with ‘head gesture’ control – February 18, 2014


      1. Maybe they bought it from the developer. They do that regularly with small producers. But it probably was a new service included in find my iPhone before that came out, they just weren’t fast enough. I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave the person a couple hundred grand who created it.

            1. I don’t think this supports that case. The App Store is controlled by apple, AirPods are made by apple, they approved the app initially and either: a) decided that the functionality was something they forgot, and purchased said app. Or b) the app violated the terms of service of submission. Which if it did, it wouldn’t have been approved. The App Store is an open market for apple made devices, but it is curated. The google play store is a marketplace for android devices and is also curated to a certain extent, and android devices constitute the majority of the market, therefore a monopoly case/anti trust is not even possible. The only leg the anti trust case has to stand on is the potential iBooks issue, but then again, that was pushed by amazon who has an almost monopoly position with audible and kindle content, which is available on iOS devices… so I don’t think the case has merit to start with.

              You could be right, but in general a curated store is a curated store.

            2. I agree with everything you said (sort of), but you may be neglecting a major point…when curation is the ONLY option then it’s censorship, and anti-competitive behavior.

              True that the iOS device and Airpods are both made by Apple. So what? When purchased they are owned by the purchaser.

              Other points to consider. When an ecosystem is so large, so tightly integrated, and so isolated, it is it’s own market.

              App Store guidelines clearly state Apps which duplicate functionality are not permitted. What about apps that improve functionality? That’s anti-competitive too. Fine carry whatever you want in your own store, don’t impose upon me where to shop.

            3. In our work for example we have found that apps which improve functionality are allowed on the store as long as they are different enough from a stock app which does the same thing. We’re architects and designers but do have a couple apps we’ve partnered on for graphics which do exactly that. I guess what it boils down to is does apple have the right to its walled garden approach or not. I like that they control it personally, but I completely understand your point and agree with free choice of where to shop, I’m just glad they assure compatibility and prevent malware. I guess it’s two different philosophies.

            4. Well said, and these two philosophies are not mutually exclusive. It’s user choice. Remember when AOL put everyone on the internet through their curated version? You weren’t bound by “all AOL, all the time”. You could exit and use the “full blown” internet, and come back to AOL at will.

            5. PS-

              Apple does have the right to it’s walled garden IF Apple did ALL the work. Here developers are encouraged to write third party apps for sale in a singular store without say or recourse on acceptance or rejection of the app. These apps enrich Apple, but the developers, under these rules of engagement, are independent contractors without independence. And therein lies the rub…

              To the user it forces Apple to be my agent with a third party.

  1. Wow, Ms. Stern, hyperbole much? AirPods “…trap you in a constant fear…”? I respectfully suggest that you avoid such fear-inducing objects (especially when they can TRAP you!), and I wish you all the best managing the other things in life that you could misplace, like your keys.

    One other thing: thank you for pointing out that things stop working when their batteries have no charge. Who knew?

  2. So you have about 24 hours of battery life to find your lost Airpod if it is within bluetooth range of your iPhone (~100 metres max under ideal conditions).

    And to think it would have been so much easier to just make them harder to lose in the first place via reliable, tangle-free means:


    1. They are harder to loose than everyone makes out. I don’t know why anyone would ever use the AirPods and not have the case with them. The case is just smaller than my car keys and having the case around gives you a safe place to put them while you charge. Not saying it’s impossible to still lose but it’s still much harder than most people think. I honestly can say that having cables isn’t needed.

        1. There is one dongle as far as the phone is concerned and you only need that if you use headphones other than the ones Apple provides with the iPhone 7. If you have the AirPods, they remove the need for the dongle all together. So unless I’m mistaken there is one single dongle and it’s need is eliminated with the AirPods. So you are correct that “…some of us don’t carry around a purse of apple dongles and chargers all day. “. You don’t need to.

          1. You only need the charger for the AirPods which are the size of car keys. So unless you complain about carrying car keys around in your purse all day you shouldn’t need to complain about carrying one more small thing

    2. Not true on the 24 hours. The Airpods themselves outside of the carry about 5 hours of charge – a bit more in standby. So if your Airpods are out of the case, you have whatever amount of that 5 hour charge is remaining.

      Having said that, when I got my airpods, my primary fear was that they would be easily lost. For two days I jumped around like a damn fool to the point that my Apple Watch Exercise ring was filled from that activity alone. If an Airpod had fallen out, they would have been returned. To this day, neither Airpod has come out of my ear without my hand on it with the intent of removing it.

      Lastly, I have left the case at work just a couple of days ago. There was a moment of panic but I don’t really use them once I get home in the evening. I assumed the case would be dead when I got to work the next day. Again, not so. The case was still charged at about 80%. I put them on around 7am and run DirecTV Now through the day at work – listening even when I’m not actively watching. I generally need to charge around 1:00 or so. After 15 minutes in the case, I’m up and running for the remainder of the day and now I keep the case in my bag AT ALL TIMES. Routine is key – pardon the pun – just as it is with keeping up with your keys.

  3. While I have had one drop when I fumbled with it taking it out of the case and had it bounce under a chair, in general, I think they are hard to lose as long as you put them in the case. The case is very small and fits in your pocket. It, and the AirPods are bright white, so they are easy to see. But I do think the beeping feature would be useful.

  4. A step forward but AirPods still need:
    1. Remote disable, making them useless to a thief
    2. more local functionality such as skip track without asking Siri.

  5. Please sign my Change dot org petition to get Joanna Stern off the WSJ – she is such a monumental waste of space that needs to go back to her wife ASAP and live her life on some Stern dot com blog and stop wasting everyone’s time and brain cells.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.