If You Can Pinpoint My AirPods, Why Can’t You Find My Wife at the Mall?


If You Can Pinpoint My AirPods, Why Can’t You Find My Wife at the Mall?

Seriously Apple, this frosts my beans

All screenshots by author

Thanks to a recent “4A400” firmware update, AirPods Pro now can be found with more precision by the Find Me app. Prior to this update, Find My only knew where the earbuds had last been put back into their case, which meant if you lost them while closed, you didn’t really know much at all.

This updated Find My feature also applies to AirPods Max.

Now Find My tracks these much as it would an AirTag. It’s not quite as accurate because neither the current AirPods Pro nor Max have the U1 chip that AirTags and recent iPhones have, but when Find My said “here” in the photo above, I was literally standing over my AirPods.

Getting the update

Getting your pods to update the firmware is a surprisingly obscure procedure. The “procedure”, if it can be called that, is to plug them into power, join them to your phone with Bluetooth, wait, and hope. It took several tries before mine updated. Once done, you’ll see 4A400 in Settings->General->About->Your Device Name when they are connected to your phone.

The firmware also applies to plain old AirPods, but they don’t get the new Find My precision. All models do get a new “Conversation Boost” ability.

Directions or Find

If Find My Devices still shows “Directions” rather than “Find” for the Pro’s, you don’t have the new firmware. Choosing Directions shows a map with your device‘s location rather loosely identified, which is helpful, but quite imprecise. If you have ever used Find My Friends in older IOS versions, you know what that looks like.

So that’s nice?

Sure, that is a big improvement. It’s sad that my low end AirPods can’t get that, but they must be missing something necessary. The MacTracker app shows some differences but not much. Whatever is lacking, the regular AirPods don’t get precision finding.

Did you say U1 chip?

Why yes, I did. You need a U1 chip phone to get precision Find My. My wife and I both have iPhones with that chip and both of us can track down our key-ring AirTags quickly and easily when we carelessly toss the keys aside and can’t find them later.

Because we share our locations, we can see each other’s devices in Find My.

Finding my wife

But about that U1 chip.. If my phone and my wife’s phone both have U1 chips, shouldn’t I be able to find my wife’s phone with the same precision that I can find my AirTags or at least with something like what the Pro and Max AirPods now have?

Nope. These are still just rough directions that are insufficient for locating a human in a busy mall. That the app would be equally incapable of finding her lost phone at a mall is also painfully true. Even when I can see my wife with my built-in biological tools, Find My sometimes tells me she is hundreds of feet away.

If I could get her to always have her AirPods Pro with her, maybe I could find her without calling and having her guide me to the aisle where she is hiding. But so far at least, neither she nor I can get more than the imprecise map to appear even after upgrading her Airpods. Why? I don’t know, but why can’t iPhones and iPads and Mac computers be found at least as precisely as Airpods Pro and Max?

Why, Apple, Why?


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