In iOS 13, you can share songs and watch movies with a friend, and each of you will use your own AirPods. The new feature is called Audio Sharing, and allows you to instantly, and temporarily, pair a second set of AirPods to your iPhone or iPad. It's like the old-school method of using a headphone splitter to connect two sets of headphones to a power outlet, only it's more expensive and elegant.
Here's how to use it.
Personal Hardware Cloud
Apple is operating at a very high level when it comes to integrating its hardware products together. AirPods are an example. Simply open a new pair of AirPods near your iPhone and connect automatically. Once this is done, they will be available for any of your other devices, thanks to the iCloud synchronization.
Another great example is Automatic Configuration. When you buy a new device, you can have it talk to your existing devices to capture your iCloud details and even your Wi-Fi access key, so that the configuration is completely simple.
And there's more. Share the wifi of your home with a friend, without a password; Airdrop. The list goes on And now it includes sharing your AirPlay audio with a friend.
How does audio sharing work?
Audio sharing can work in two ways. The first is to pair two AirPods games with your iOS 13 device. Then, you can send the same audio stream to both, as you can with any AirPlay 2 device. This is the way to go if your friend uses an iPhone / iPad with iOS 12 or earlier.
The best and easiest The way to do it is only available if both use iOS 13. In this case, all you have to do is have your friend bring your device close to yours. Here's an example:
Friends on a train
You're watching a movie on the train, for example, and you want to share it with a friend. You are watching on your iPad. Go ahead, start the movie and have your friend bring your iPhone to your iPad. A panel will appear on your iPad screen, asking if you want to share your audio. Tap yes and a duplicate audio stream will be sent to your AirPods.
The advantage of this method (apart from its ease of use compared to the manual pairing of a second set of AirPods) is that your friend can control their own volume level using the controls on their own iPhone. That's a fantastic detail right there, and one that you can not do if you're dividing the outlet. It's not that many iOS devices have headphone jacks anyway.
Audio sharing in iOS 13: iDevices and compatible headphones
Audio sharing is really an excellent feature. From the outside, it seems a bit ridiculous, like the absurd HomeKit light switch that uses all kinds of luxury wireless technology to replicate the 100% reliable and very cheap wall switches we already have in each room.
But if you and a friend use AirPods anyway, this is a fantastic addition. You can share music for a small two-person nightclub. Or you can, as we saw earlier, watch a movie with double privacy, without annoying cables.
But audio sharing does not work with all devices, or with all Apple wireless headphones. You can use any AirPods (first and second generation), but the only officially supported Beats headphones are the PowerBeats Pro. Compatible iPhones and iPads are as follows:
- iPhone 8
- All series of iPhone X
- iPad Pro of 12.9 inches (second generation and newer)
- iPad Air (3rd generation)
- iPod touch (7th generation)
- iPad mini (5th generation)
Those are pretty high requirements. Still, it's a free addition, so who can complain? iOS 13 will be available this fall.