I want to see an Apple Watch-style dedicated AirPods app at WWDC

In-ear headphones: Apple AirPods Pro 2
(Image credit: Future)

WWDC is just around the corner, and despite most of the speculation centring around new MacBooks and the illusive AR headset that's supposedly years in the making, it's also the time of year that Apple shows off all of its new software updates. We can expect to see new versions of iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS, MacOS and tvOS, but there's one key software upgrade I'd like to see at WWDC – and in my humble opinion, I feel like it's well overdue at this point. 

While they're not technically the best wireless earbuds on the market, my first-generation AirPods Pro have served me well for well over two years now. When they eventually die, they will be replaced by a pair of AirPods Pro 2 without hesitation, as the sound quality, comfort, noise cancelling and usability are all things I've grown accustomed to. There is one issue however, and that's the frankly laughable software experience you get with AirPods, and that's something I need Apple to fix as soon as possible. 

Practically all other wireless headphone manufacturers provide a dedicated app and/or software experience with their headphones, which usually lets you adjust sound presets, noise cancelling, EQ levels, access settings, update the firmware and even give you handy tips and tricks for using your headphones. Sennheiser has the Smart Control app, Bose has the Connect and Music apps, and Sony has its Music Center app – yet Apple tucks the AirPods menu away within the device settings of your iPhone or iPad.

Considering how expensive the AirPods Pro Max are (yes, we need an app for those too), it's baffling that you're confined to a limited number of options in the Bluetooth menu for adjusting the sound and customising your headphones. What's more infuriating is that Apple is more than capable of making an intuitive and useful application based on its own hardware; just take the Apple Watch app for example. 

Apple's AirPods setting menu on an iPhone

AirPods settings within the device settings app? It's a no from me...  (Image credit: Apple)

Here's where WWDC comes in, as although it's not been speculated or rumoured in any way thus far, I have my fingers crossed that we see an overhauled software experience for AirPods. First and foremost, I want Apple to ditch the iOS settings menu and move away from the Bluetooth settings in favour of an AirPods app. Here we could have the usual suspects like the useful ear tip fit test, personalised Spatial Audio set-up and battery percentage, as well as some new features like EQ presets, AirPods tips and tricks and app suggestions to use with your AirPods. It may not be common knowledge but you can actually adjust your AirPods' EQ – however, this setting is found in the accessibility menu for some reason. If this isn't a prime example of why we need an updated software experience then I don't know what is.

Finally, while it may be an uncommon pairing, an AirPods app would do wonders for Android users that use the Apple earbuds. While this may be an uncharacteristic move by Apple as it likes to keep its products locked tightly within its ecosystem, Android users could benefit from missing features that are exclusive to iPhone and iPad users. This includes the ear fit test, find my AirPods, battery life status, control customisation and more. While we usually wouldn't recommend pairing AirPods with an Android phone, an app that addresses many of our qualms when it comes to missing features might change our minds. 

Unfortunately, my hopes aren't exactly high that we'll see an AirPods app on Monday, as most signs point towards a smart display lock screen mode and various UI overhauls with iOS 17. However, rumours of new AirPods Pro Max headphones and a cheaper set of AirPods Lite have been circulating for some time now, which could be the next perfect opportunity for Apple to upgrade the AirPods software experience.  


Read our full Apple AirPods Pro 2 review

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Lewis Empson
Staff Writer

Lewis Empson is a Staff Writer on What Hi-Fi?. He was previously Gaming and Digital editor for Cardiff University's 'Quench Magazine', Lewis graduated in 2021 and has since worked on a selection of lifestyle magazines and regional newspapers. Outside of work, he enjoys gaming, gigs and regular cinema trips.