AirPods—do I really need Siri?

So it’s often mentioned that one of the more recent Apple products that still shows innovation and “magic” are AirPods.

And since I need new earphones anyway, why not? Well, Siri maybe. I stopped using it and don’t plan on starting again.

So how well will AirPods work without Siri? Sure, I can use my iPhone’s volume buttons (I already do so with my present earphones) and from what I understand taking out an AirPod will automatically pause music. So is there anything I should be worried about not being able to control if I buy a pair and don’t use Siri?

You don’t need Siri to use AirPods, you can use Siri with AirPods. I don’t use Siri with mine FWIW.

Thanks, good to know.

How do you change the volume or play/pause?

I also use AirPods without Siri - volume control requires I pull out my iPhone, but play/pause just tap on the AirPod twice (a setting choice)

Re: the sound, I actually prefer my over-the ear B&O headphones, but AirPods are much easier to carry in my pocket, so I do use them much more than I thought I would.

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You can always use the controls on the source device. You can also set double-tap for various meanings (can be different on each AirPod) The choices are Siri, Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, or Off (Ignore). In addition if you listening with both AirPods, removing one causes a pause.

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I would truly like the freedom from cords in many instances; but the lack of full playback controls keeps me from taking the plunge. I don’t want to have to take an airpod out of my ear just to briefly pause to hear someone else say something; I don’t want to give up a double tap setting for something else that I desire; and I truly do not want to dig into my pocket to adjust the volume on my iPhone X, where I will surely take yet another dozen accidental screenshots each day because some genius decided to move the power button from the top, to directly opposite the volume, and make that the new SS command sans Home button.

When Apple can give me full playback controls that I use every single day, play/pause, next/previous, fast forward/reverse, volume up/down, without needing Siri, directly on the AirPods, I’ll then figure out how not to be annoyed by the need to charge yet another thing.


Couldn’t agree more. Lack of full playback controls on the remote would be a serious loss in functionality for me. I’m more likely to go with a set of Bluetooth headphones that are connected to each other by a cable that has a remote on it. Other advantage of this is I can take both out an ‘store’ them by hanging them around my neck.

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I set double-tapping the right AirPod to play/pause and the left to Siri. I almost never use Siri.

Since removing one earbud can already be set to pause, I’m thinking I’d set left double-tap to previous and right doubel-tap to next since. I’m anxious to see how they’ll perform.

An Apple Watch is a decent control–one button press and one tap and I have the Now Playing view including crown volume control. I don’t miss my wired EarPods. All Watch models support this–new watches should be coming out soon. The watch is surprisingly handy for a variety of things.

BTW, you don’t have to take the iPhone out of your pocket if you can find the volume controls with your fingers. They work without waking the phone.


FWIW, I used to absolutely hate EarPods, which are, less the cord, of course, shaped exactly like AirPods, and have identical sound profiles; They wouldn’t stay put in my ears for even three seconds, and I had to shove them deep into my ear canals and press my fingers on that weird little ear nub to get any decent sound out of them. Not very practical to have to firmly press on your ears just to enjoy the sound. One three minute session with them when they first came out convinced me I’d never use them, and that carried forward to AirPods for that reason.

I used the previous iPod/Apple Earphones models (MB770G/A[and B]) until I just could no longer find genuine OEM models; I used to order them in bulk for ~$5-10 each whenever I found them; due to heavy use and poor construction I killed at least 3-4/year; then I was forced to start killing Lightning to 3.5mm adapters at around 3 per year, as well (Courage.)

I stuck with the Earphones for so darn long because so very few in-ear headsets from third parties included the full controls on the inline controller, and if they did, the mic or its noise cancellation sucked; the OEMs could be made tolerable for casual listening (especially when also hearing ambient sound was important) by covering them with the thicker foam covers, that both made them more comfortable, and kept the damn things (mostly) in my ears.

I ignored the EarPods entirely, until, again, I couldn’t find any for sale; I had a pile of Apple-provided, never-used EarPods (3.5mm and Lightning) just sitting in the drawer, so I finally broke down and tried some various accessories designed to keep them in your ears. I was SHOCKED at not only how well they could be made to stay in my ears, but how much better they sounded, too.

Apparently I have ears that Jonny Ive and team never thought to test, because I actually use two products in combination; I first place a simple silicone cover ( over the bud, then over that place the Earbuddyz brand ( of winged-covers on top of that to make it not only stay in place, but the double-thickness grants much, much better bass and noise isolation, without sacrificing ambient awareness.

If I could increase that thickness by another 50%, I’d be happier; and if the wings pushed forward as much as they do down, I’d be perfectly happy. I’ve tried several of the winged-type covers, and most are okay, but some are too stiff and hurt after an hour or so, or push in the wrong direction; the Earbuddyz worked best for me (you do NOT want to know how much I’ve spent finding ear covers and in-ear canal memory foam inserts for various headsets over the years).

[When I’m serious about listening to music on the go or working out, I use RHA T20i in/over-ear inserts; the comfort, isolation and stay-putness is awesome, and the sound quality is enough to justify the steep price tag (as low as $180 on sale); however, the controller, though fully capable, is poorly placed and an absolute UX nightmare due to poor physical cues and button size on a barely-distinguishable barrel shape. If I could put the Apple controller on that set.]

If Apple does improve the AirPods controls (the way they continue to sell out supplies suggests they have no reason to ever make them better), I pray that the silicone covers will not interfere, and I can finally ditch the wires that are always snagging on something.

I have been trying to take advantage of the amazingly welcome fine control over volume on my Apple Watch, but the problem for me is Now Playing is never active in that moment I need rapid access to volume, or NP is active when I don’t want it to be. I would love it if Apple would let me permanently lock the Digital Crown to volume, and optionally release it when touch-scrolling isn’t sufficient.

Speaking of fine controls, I also wish iOS would allow me to set the default to fine control via the inline controller; I’d rather press five times or more to get where I want exactly, than a total of ten settings, period, to be almost always stuck just a bit too high or too low.

How refreshing! My story is exactly the same: I also solved with the silicone covers over the EarPods.

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One thing that you can do is make “Now Playing” a complication. It will only be available in one of the large complication slots, such as the large middle complication of the Modular watch face, or the long bottom complication in the Utility watch face. Then it is just a tap away from the watch face.

And, of course, the default for Now Playing is for it to show up whenever media is playing on the iPhone, which is a setting in the Watch app (General / Wake Screen / Auto Launch Audio Apps), which you can turn off if Now Playing is coming on when you don’t want it.


Thanks, @ddmiller ; yeah, I tried that, too; like I said, it’s just never in the right toggle mode when I want to do something; it’s either there and in my way, or it’s a tap away, which is longer than I want when I need to adjust volume in a hurry. For me, in most instances, Time Travel is just a useless waste of the Digital Crown; I almost never want to use it, and when I do accidentally, I’m upset by it and struggle to get rid of it and where I want to be. I hear TT is dead as of watchOS 5; I’ve not heard what is to replace it, but (at least an option for) volume for me would be totally a dream.

I was hoping for user-customizable faces, too, wherein we could place more complications than is currently allowed; but I hear all we get is a new version of Siri. Apple is intent on not letting anyone else have their way with faces.

I’m using iOS 12 and watchOS 5 betas, so I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure that turning the Digital Crown does control volume when you’re in the Now Playing app on the Apple Watch even in watchOS 4. And you can set that Now Playing screen to appear by default when audio is playing on the watch or associated iPhone.

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I’m sorry the conversation hasn’t been more clear (and is now entirely off topic); you are correct re: watchOS 4 behaviors; that’s what we’ve all been saying (badly). What I’m wishing for is a global setting for volume control on the Digital Crown, whether or not Now Playing is activated and/or visible; I have zero use or appreciation for Time Travel.



Ah, yes. The Digital Crown is generically used for scrolling (not Time Travel) more than anything else in watchOS, so I can’t see that ever changing for its default behavior. Scrolling is just too basic, even if it can be done by swiping on the screen too.

Without Siri, you change them on your iPhone. With Siri, you can ask Siri.

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