AirPods connect to wrong device

Hardware & Accessories

First, let me say that my wife and I each have an iPhone and she has an iPad. All 3 devices are logged in with the same Apple ID and we've upgraded all 3 devices to iOS 14. Also, we each have our own set of airPods.

This evening, my wife was watching Netflix on her iPad. I wanted to listen to a podcast on my iPhone, so I pulled out my airPods and put them in my ears. Suddenly, I began hearing the audio from her Netflix program in my airPods. Voiceover on my iPhone remained on the phone and did not connect to my airPods as it had always done with previous versions of iOS.

I was able to go into the bluetooth settings and disconnect the airPods, but they immediately reconnected to my wife's iPad. I had her stop her program and had her go into bluetooth settings and disconnect. I could then connect with my iPhone, but as soon as she resumed her program on her iPad, my airPods disconnected from my iPhone and connected to her iPad.

I had the idea of having my wife forget my airPods on her iPad, but when we attempted this, we got the message that forgetting the airPods on her iPad would forget them on all of our devices, which is definitely not what we wanted to do, so we cancelled the action.

How do we resolve this? We should be able to forget a bluetooth connection on one device without forgetting it on all devices. Otherwise, there should be a way to designate a preferred device for a given bluetooth connection. What can we do?



Submitted by Kerry Fielding on Monday, September 21, 2020

Hi. Is there a particular reason that you have all devices signed into the same account? I would suggest possibly setting up a second account and having family sharing in able. That way, you can log into your account on your iPhone and have your AirPods connect only to the devices that you are signed into. I have to say, I haven’t tried this, but that’s what logic is suggesting. I haven’t had the nerve to update to iOS 14 yet and I’m anxious to do so because we have an Apple TV, a Mac, and an iPhone and it really is a pain in the neck to switch from one device to another using the AirPods. The thing is, having read reviews on this site, I’m not going anywhere until they fix the focus jumping issue so I will have to wait :-)

We've used Apple devices for many years, pretty much since Voiceover was launched on the third gen iPod Touch, and we've always just used the single Apple ID. Both my wife and I have made various app purchases and she's purchased some movies. We don't want to have to repurchase anything on another Apple ID. Plus, we like the ability to share our contacts and calendar.

However, I fear Family Sharing is what Apple is going to suggest to solve the problem rather than actually fixing it and this makes me very angry. I've sent an email to Apple Accessibility, so we'll see.

Submitted by Scott Duck on Monday, September 21, 2020

I believe that family sharing with a new Apple ID account would fix your problem while not presenting any new problems. With family sharing, the new account would be able to access apps and other content previously purchased with the old account and it is possible to share calendars between accounts whether or not they are using family sharing. Using family sharing and calendar sharing is what my wife and I have done for years, with separate accounts and with no problems. I doubt there is another fix, unless it is possible to turn off automatic AirPod switching entirely. Apple appears to make the assumption that each person has their own separate Apple ID and many of the features are built around this concept. Also, I doubt that contacting the accessibility team will do any good, as this is a feature related to the over all OS, not to Voice Over or any other accessibility feature.

It's true that you can share calendars between Apple IDs, but you cannot share contacts. We actually checked with Apple about this.

More importantly, I don't think you can actually share apps, at least, not unless they've enabled this in the app. For example, we've purchased the Weather Gods app. I don't think we could install that app on both devices without repurchasing it if we had separate Apple IDs. Am I wrong about that? If so, how does it work?

And some (maybe all) services (such as Apple Music) charge an additional fee for a family plan.

Even if there's a way to make it all work (without incurring additional charges) I think it would require a significant amount of work to get it all set up. It's really just not a reasonable option for us.

Submitted by Jeff on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

I talked to a very nice and extremely helpful person at Apple Accessibility who found the solution to this problem. Note that this only applies to the airPods that support the automatic device switching feature.

Connect your airPods to your device and go into bluetooth settings. Find your airPods in the list of devices and use the action rotor to select more info. Flick down to the option that says: Connect to this iPhone automatically. Double-tap this item and choose When last connected to this device. Note that you need to have your airPods connected in order to see this option.

Do this on all the devices which you do not want the airPods to automatically switch to.