Can I use AirPods or AirPods 2 on an Android smartphone? Of course, but without enjoying the same integration as on the iPhone. With the help of applications, we still manage to retain some of the features of Apple Bluetooth headphones. We explain how.
Announced in September 2016, the Apple AirPods were renewed in March 2019. Why be interested while it is obviously a product optimized for the iPhone and iPad? Well precisely because it is not so much the case that, and that we can use them pretty much normally on Android.
The AirPods have popularized the category of true wireless earphones and are truly wireless: there is no cable between the two earphones. They each include a battery and a microphone, to use them completely independently.
This also implies constraints: it is easier to lose one of the two AirPods, and we must admit that we do not seem very smart to wear headphones with excessive rods which seem to have cut the thread. That said, if you want to benefit from the independent side, they are not to neglect.
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Pairing: a little less easy than on iOS
The AirPods 2 include a home chip, the Apple H1, which has the responsibility to manage the pairing in Bluetooth 5 in a transparent manner or to support the request "Dis Siri". On iPhone, just open their case – which also serves as a charging station – near the phone, and a pop-up window appears.
On Android, you have to go through a classic Bluetooth association, after long pressing the button on the back of the box. During our tests, they were detected the first time in this way.
Once associated, they work as expected, at least for basic uses. AirPods initialize when they are removed from their charging box. The built-in accelerometer is taken into account and it is thus possible to double tap on one of the two earphones to pause the music and restart it, or to take the call during a call.
As on iPhone, we can very well leave one earphone in the box, and the other then switch to mono. If you're listening to podcasts and want to stay connected to the outside world, that's a good point!
On the other hand, the proximity sensors, which detect the presence of AirPods in your ears, do not work, depriving the headphones of one of their nice features: the automatic pause of the audio when one withdraws one, and its recovery when it is put back in place.
Replace Siri with Google Assistant
The AirPods, on iOS, are integrated with Siri. The interface allows, for each headset, to assign pause playback, or start the virtual assistant. Some applications nevertheless allow you to change the assistant and associate a gesture with Google Assistant in particular.
This is the case of the Assistant Trigger application, which promises in addition to running Google Assistant to display the battery level of AirPods in the notification bar of your phone and cut the music when one of they are removed from the ear. These two features do not work with the second generation yet. However, it is still possible to access the battery level of AirPods by clicking on the notification.
Once installed, the application allows you to associate 2 double taps (or a quad tap) on one of the headphones at Google Assistant trigger. Our first tests were however a little random and with a bit of latency.
It is impossible to differentiate AirPods left and right as on iOS, one for reading, the other for the assistant.
Note that the AirBattery application is also well known and offers much the same, but the experience was much less conclusive in our case with a very random battery display and fewer possibilities.
Less fluid but satisfying experience
The basic functions are therefore assured and the experience is that of standard Bluetooth headphones. Without the little extras of integration with iOS, Airpods behave quite reliably. During our tests, we noted a few stalls and quirks, perhaps a little more frequently than on iOS, probably due to lack of optimization of the Apple OS.
The sound is that of EarPods, in a long tradition of neutral earphones, that can be found flat according to his preferences. As I have come to talk about with picky audiophiles, AirPods are not made to listen to classic FLAC. On the other hand, they offer a quality quite sufficient for genres more "pop" in reasonable encodings, my music collection being in AAC 256 kb / s or MP3 320 kb / s.
Still, we need to do little more experience on iOS. Intelligent pairing is absent and inactive proximity sensors on the second generation as mentioned above.
Finally, we are far enough from the fluidity of the experience on iOS. Unlike the HomePod, however, the AirPods are at least usable on Android, with most of their functionality and software solutions that are more or less usable for what is not natively supported. After, you will certainly find a much better value by looking at what other brands offer in true wireless headphones.
Read on FrAndroid: Which wireless headphones do you choose in 2019? The selection of FrAndroid
Original article written by Stéphane Ruscher.