Apple has silently updated the AirPods firmware from version 3.3.1 to 3.5.1. We’re not sure what changed, but an Apple source.
First, check to see if you need the firmware update. Connect your AirPods to your iPhone and go to Settings > General > About > AirPods. If the AirPods item doesn’t appear, open the AirPods charging case until the charge status alert appears at the bottom of the screen and then check again. Under Settings > General > About > AirPods, your firmware version should be listed. If you still don’t see the AirPods item, make sure they’re connected in Settings > Bluetooth.
If the firmware is old, plug a Lightning cable connected to a power source into the AirPods charging case to charge them while they’re connected to the iPhone. Wait a few minutes, and then check the firmware version again — the update should happen automatically.
Unfortunately, the firmware update has done nothing to fix the VoIP issues Julio Ojeda-Zapata and I experienced during testing, including the awful jackhammer noise when trying to use the AirPods for a Slack call in iOS (see “,” 20 December 2016).