Like many things Apple the Airpod is a piece of Apple genius. They removed the 3.5mm headphone jack on their iPhone and came up with a preferred wireless future of earbuds. Not just any earbuds but something that works best with iPhone. 

When I got an iPhone 8 Plus a while back I got some Airpods. From Ebay where I didn't pay full price. The good news was always that it paired immediately and  "knew" when I took the Airpods out of my ears. It worked well with the Apple ecosystem.

Things have moved on. Upgrades and picking up an Apple Watch have out me further down the rabbit hole of all things Apple. The first time using Airpods after getting the watch had my music not playing, sound apps running slowly and things not working. I had read that Airpods had received firmware updates so I went looking to see whether my Airpods were up to date. 

Looking on my iPhone it seemed the firmware version and serial number were missing. It struck me that maybe this was a counterfeit Chinese fake set of Airpods. Not hard to imagine from ebay. However, it turned out that a few other people also had this problem on Apple's Support Discussion Forums

There were also descriptions of exactly my issue. The answer was - contact support. 

Support was through online chat. Good response but it was pretty much the web instructions of resetting the Airpods and re-pairing. They didn't really understand why the serial number and firmware was not showing in the iPhone. Updating Airpod firmware is "automatic". Until it isn't "automatic".

Apple don't really cater for manual firmware updates. Apple is, in part, a fashion and lifestyle brand. You don't do technical stuff. Until you do. The Android world is flush with videos and explanations of updating the fundamentals of Android. Not so much in the Apple world. 

 If I switched off Bluetooth on my Apple Watch then, by magic, the Airpods worked. I did read that you shouldn't really pair too many Bluetooth devices to an iPhone. Seven seems to be the maximum according to users in the Apple discussion boards. Maybe that was the thing. I removed all but two connections. Problem not solved. Switching off Bluetooth seemed to be the only thing that would deal with the issue. 

Now there is a different problem. Without Bluetooth then the Watch doesn't really like unlocking an iPhone when I wear a mask. Its a feature that is useful in a pandemic.

My local Apple Store doesn't have an open Genius Bar during the pandemic. So in-person support wasn't going to happen.

Fortunately I have another set of very cheap £10 Bluetooth earbuds from China. they work on Android devices as well as iPhone. No special features of course but they work. Go with what works. 

I am suspicious that Apple loves it's ecosystem so much it thinks that support is really teaching users how to use it's products rather than investigating incompatibilities or possible bugs. I use the word "bug" very carefully being a relatively recent entrant to the Apple ecosystem.

I have filed a bug report though. The disclaimer says Apple will read it but don't expect an individual reply.

Don't worry Apple. I absolutely believe I won't get an individual reply. 


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