Find My AirPods sucks

We’ve touched on this, but I must vent.

I lost my AirPods this weekend. Even til now, Monday, this is what Find My shows:

I just found them. (On my own, with no help from Apple). And, as you can see, even sitting right next to the phone, there isn’t a trace of a beacon of any kind. My phone still has no idea where they are, and cannot even play a sound.

This is unforgivable.

The sound feature only works when the AirPods are not safely stowed. In other words, when they’re probably in your ears. In fact, they warn you that it might hurt your hearing. In other words, if you’re so stupid that you don’t know your AirPods are actually in your ears, you might have to take a risk of damage to your hearing by playing a loud noise.

But if your AirPods are away from your body and, therefore, actually at risk of being lost, sorry; we can’t help you.

I just don’t get what kind of product development cognitive dissonance they’re tolerating in Cupertino.

This may explain your issue - From Apple Support:
“You also won’t see the location for your AirPods or AirPods Pro if they’re inside their charging case. You can see AirPods Max in Find My for up to 18 hours inside their Smart Case. Outside of their Smart Case, you can see them for 72 hours.”

So it seems you will need to attach an Airtag to your charging case!

Someone should invent a cable to connect the Airpods to the iPhone so they can’t get lost :blush:


Yep! I had previously read this. And I hope they don’t think that writing a support article confessing the dysfunctionality is going to absolve them of the shame. :sweat_smile:

And I did have a flash moment considering sticking and AirTag to the case. But I’m going to stick with the shame approach for now :joy:

Find my AirPods is designed to help you find an AirPod when it falls out of your ear or elsewhere when it is not in its charging case. It has helped me locate individual AirPods that have fallen out in bed, and in the house. It is a soft but noticeable ping.

I agree that it might be nice to be able to locate AirPods in a case, but that was apparently not Apple’s intent and would require considerable redesign of the case (essentially building in an Air tag (technology not released when AirPods were offered.)

So I doubt you will be “shaming” apple. I have owned AirPods since they first came out and never expected to locate their case.


It’s “find my AirPods,” not “find my AirPods case.” Based on the posts I see in a Facebook neighborhood group, most people lose loose AirPods, and several have reported using the feature to locate them.

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Maybe, maybe not. Both AirPods and the case have microcontrollers with Bluetooth interfaces. It seems to me that they could be given “Find My” capability with just a firmware update. They would probably require a hardware redesign for UWB and the detailed location services that depend on it, but basic functionality (coarse location and chimes) should be compatible with the existing hardware.

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I’m with @dave1 on this—as a user, if I lose my AirPods, I don’t really care if they’re in or out of the case. It’s all too easy to set that case down somewhere odd, have it fall out of a bag in the car, or leave them at work before you go home. There may be good technical reasons why Find My can’t work with them in a case, but Apple should work to resolve that, whether it’s firmware or requires a case redesign.


Sorry, but I almost completely disagree.

If you’re lying in bed and your AirPods fall out, then news flash they’re in your bed (or just beside it). If you’re in the kitchen and one falls on the floor and it’s not plainly visible right there, such as rolling under the stove, then you still know it’s within arms reach. An audible ping may help, but you’re going to find them promptly either way. Usefulness: 10%.

“I agree that it might be nice to be able to locate AirPods in a case, but that was apparently not Apple’s intent”

Correct. And that lack of intention is a product development failure in my view.

“and would require considerable redesign of the case (essentially building in an Air tag (technology not released when AirPods were offered.)”

No, for ages we have had the ability for devices to be pingable, including iPhones and the earbuds themselves as you just mentioned. We didn’t need AirTags to have this technology added to the case itself.

Find My use cases and technology fall into 3 categories:

  1. Short range - your “bed” case discussed above. You know it’s within arms reach. A ping can help but doesn’t tell you much you don’t already know.

  2. Medium range - within the range of Bluetooth or a ping sound. Basically “around the house”.

  3. Long range - anywhere on earth. The map feature and Find My network are useful for this and Medium range.

My situation fell into the Medium range case, but I could not determine if it was a Long range issue. The map told me they were last seen at home, but that was days prior. So this didn’t even prove to me that they were still home. Maybe they were in a car that had left the property? Or at work, but the case was never opened, and so the location never updated?

But it turned out they were at home in the pocket of a pair of pants that were in the laundry :basket: :sweat_smile:. Several iPhones had been within Bluetooth range (even within 2-3’) many times over the 3 days it was “lost”. It would have been so easy to have a simple ping either play the “pending” sound or at least confirm on the map they were still at home. Nothing.

As for the case redesign: not needed. Remember, this very common scenario involves a closed case with the AirPods inside. The technology to ping the earbuds and have a sound played already exists, as you also pointed out. If they simply made the case acoustically transparent, the problem would be solved. Yes, it consumes a little bit of energy, as all these findable devices do; but that’s a small price to pay. AirPods that are fully charged, but nowhere to be found, are useless.

As someone who lost a pair of AirPod Pros while out of their case… (we think swept up with vegetable trimmings and into the recycling). That whole episode was very frustrating. I can imagine with the case to be even more so.

I thought I heard during the recent WWDC there was mention of including pinging while inside the case in the future. That’s probably a hardware fix and not likely to be backward compatible.

We will have to agree to disagree (although I DO agree that Find My AirPods case could be useful).
I have misplaced my AirPods out of the case, and could not locate them without pinging them – they are tiny, fall behind things, or in the trash. Furthermore, they are light – if you drop one, you may not hear it fall; if you drop the case it makes more noise (unless on a rug or grass.)
I am unlikely to lose my AirPods case – it stays in my pocket usually and it is big enough to notice if missing.
For me usefulness is at least 75%.

I don’t agree. A new product is scoped out and enhancement may have until later, assuming the product is successful.

Well, the technology could be added to the case, but I doubt it would be a simple firmware update.

The case has no speaker or sound emitting device currently. The sound that the individual AirPods make is very soft and would likely not be noticed if they were in the case. To be acoustically transparent would likely involve making the case material thinner, possibly less water resistant and probably less protective.
I believe the primary function of the case is to charge and protect the AirPods.

In any event, I would like to see a future model with the ability to find the AirPod case – assuming it was not much more expensive.

I think I’ve expressed my view that it is a desirable feature, but was not an oversight that should embarrass Apple. Enough said; I am not trying to start an ongoing debate.

Slightly off-topic, but this item was referenced from Daring Fireball this morning.

That’s pretty funny!

But is sounds like BS to me. “couldn’t swallow properly. My throat filled with water, but it wouldn’t go down – I had to lean over the sink and let the water drain out.”? So he didn’t realize there was an AirPod in his throat until he went to drink? And no gagging or coughing, just unnoticeably lodged in there? And AirPods aren’t round; there’s no way it would form a water seal, damming water from going down. I dunno. Sounds like a great way to draw clicks to your site.

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You keep mentioning that finding the case could be useful. Please be clear that the AirPods were in the case. I’m not really asking to find the case. I’m asking to find case-bound AirPods. And the AirPods already support Find My. But when they’re in the case, the Find My capabilities are shut off. And they’re shut off at the time when, arguably, the Find My feature is most needed. Or, let’s agree, it’s shut off at a time when it would be extremely useful to have enabled.

This reared its head again this afternoon, I opened my case to find one AirPod Pro in there. Much ado about the house and studio trying to retrace my steps. Find My proving useless despite fully charged status of the lone AirPod. Eventually found it underneath my office chair (well, duh…) but through plain old rooting around. Even lifting it up right beside my supposedly pinging iPhone produce no alert sound at all.

So even with only one AirPod in the case, the find my feature was disabled? Did you try opening the case?

In related news, maybe Apple read this thread because there are rumors of better find my support coming to AirPods Pro, debunking the idea that we couldn’t do better with the existing hardware. But how it will work I’m not clear on.

It should be simple. A request to make a sound should make a sound.

I tried with the case open and closed. It’s nonsense really, if you have the app asking to make the sound, and you accept the warning about it being possibly in an ear, it should make a sound.

If the airpod itself can detect a request and even if it is inside a case, it should make a sound.
If one airpod is in a case, open or closed, and another is outside, it should make a sound. This does work in general, it did when I tried just now, but it didn’t work earlier. The AirPods were both at 100% charge.

And the sound should rise in volume slowly, it’s far too quiet when it does work.

Oh, you’re preachin’ to the choir, brotha! Maybe to the preacher lol!

I only asked to understand how your experience compared to how I thought it currently worked.

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Just updating for anyone who missed it…

The latest AirPods Pro firmware enables Find My network support. Before, all you could see was last known location. Now, you have access to the Find My network of devices to find them. And while it doesn’t support ultra wideband’s ability to show direction, you can now use the locate feature to get you hotter and colder as you get close to it.

And yep, it will play a sound.

All of this while the AirPods are in the case and the lid is closed.

Yes, the sound is weak. But remember, it got you pretty close first.

All of this with none of the need for hardware upgrades people were barking about. Apple just needed a little kick in the pants to prioritize the feature. That’s why we have TidBITS Forum! :wink:

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Just to make sure the link is here:

And I just wrote about Find My more generally too.

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Well, clearly there are some bugs to work out.

Yesterday, I brought my AirPods Pro home from work (alongside my iPhone), sat them on the dinner table while several of us with iPhones did various phoney activities (don’t get me started about leaving phones off at the dinner table), and sat there in the center of the home and action all night as kids and adults with iPhones came and went.

But I forgot all that. This morning I got up looking for them and couldn’t find them. After checking the car, I went to Find My which showed them still at work, miles away:

Dumbfounded that I was back to pre-upgrade functionality, I grabbed the AirPods in their closed case and held them next to my phone. Still nothing. Waited about a minute. But remember, they were in bluetooth range for >12 hours already.

So I opened the lid, and you can see they have plenty of power:

Still nothing! I tapped on the device in Find My and otherwise tried to get it to “wake up”. Based on a little progress indicator, I could tell that it tried to play a sound that I had requested many hours prior (I never actually heard anything). But eventually, after a couple minutes, it showed up as nearby in Find My:

It’s really pretty embarrassing, Apple. You need to get your crap together.

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