Apple AirPodsSource: Matt Brown | Windows Central

Apple's AirPods remain a best-seller in audio, among the leading wireless earbuds on the market, especially when coupled with an iPhone. Cutting the cord improves convenience and portability, making AirPods ideal for everyday listening. But when it comes to gaming, consoles like Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S don't play nice with wireless devices. The limitation boils down to Bluetooth, the standard for cable-free devices like AirPods, but still absent on every Xbox console. But there's one popular workaround for Xbox consoles if you're in a tight squeeze.

Why AirPods don't work with Xbox

A sizeable accessories ecosystem now supports Microsoft's modern Xbox consoles, with some of the best Xbox headsets rivaling general-purpose headphones. These generally leverage the "Xbox Wireless" protocol, a proprietary connection designed for Xbox controllers and headsets. But the newest Xbox consoles still lack Bluetooth support, excluding many existing earbuds and headphones, including AirPods.

AirPods don't work with Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S consoles with compatibility eradicated by their different wireless technologies. You're generally best sticking to the official accessories, with viable wireless Xbox headsets in budget and premium price brackets.

However, there are several workarounds to use Bluetooth headphones with Xbox consoles, if required. The implementation isn't seamless, but it's the closest solution to official support if you need a quick headset alternative. All you need is a smartphone paired with your AirPods, plus the official Xbox app.

How to use AirPods with Xbox One & Series X|S

Xbox App for iOSSource: Matt Brown | Windows Central

The easiest (and free!) steps to use AirPods with an Xbox console leverage remote play functions nestled in the Xbox mobile app. While designed to stream gameplay to your phone screen, it also doubles as a method to wirelessly hand over Xbox audio to an external output. You can connect your AirPods to your phone, open the remote play stream, and enjoy stereo sound from your favorite titles.

These steps work best with AirPods paired to an iOS device, although Android phones and other wireless earbud brands deliver similar results. Microsoft also recommends using a 5GHz Wi-Fi connection for the best results. You'll first need to ensure your Xbox console is ready for remote play via the console's Settings application.

  1. Press the Xbox button to open the Guide menu on your Xbox console.
  2. Navigate to the Profile & system tab.
  3. Select Settings.

    Xbox Series X|S Networking GuideSource: Windows Central

  4. Navigate to the Devices & connections tab.
  5. Select Remote features.
  6. Ensure the Enable remote features checkbox is filled.

    With your Xbox console readied for remote play, you can now start wirelessly streaming your gameplay to your phone. The Xbox app allows players to streaming low-latency feed from your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S, audio included.

  7. Connect your AirPods to your iOS or Android device.

  8. Open the Xbox app via your phone or tablet. If you don't have the Xbox app, it's available via the iOS App Store and Google Play Store for Android.

    Xbox App iOSSource: Windows Central

  9. Select the Xbox console icon in the top right-hand corner.
  10. Select Remote play from this device. Your Xbox console video and audio will now stream to your iPhone or Android phone.

    Xbox Remote Play HomeSource: Windows Central

The stream will provide a video feed output from your Xbox console, which also doubles as an audio passthrough for your connected AirPods. You can expect low-latency, stutter-free audio for gaming, albeit less seamless than the official Bluetooth support desired. With your AirPods connected via these steps, set your phone aside for the duration of your play session.

How to use AirPods for Xbox Party Chat

While a remote play session automatically streams game audio to your AirPods, it takes a few extra steps to use Party Chat. Expanding the stream settings unveils an option to enable your AirPods microphone for use in Microsoft's official voice chat system. The microphone also works via game chat for multiplayer titles.

  1. Press the ··· icon in the top right-hand corner while using Xbox remote play.
  2. Select Unmute to activate your AirPods microphone.
  3. Select Mute to disable your AirPods microphone again.

    Xbox Remote Play MuteSource: Windows Central

The AirPods microphone isn't the best, and you'll find sharper results from other gaming headsets designed for Xbox consoles. However, the method remains a viable way to communicate with friends and teammates without owning an Xbox-compatible headset.

The above steps work with any Bluetooth device, including the most popular wireless earbuds on the market, AirPods and AirPods Pro. It's not a seamless solution, requiring your phone to continually stream a video feed, coupled with a chance of latency on some networks. But it's the closest thing to AirPods support with your Xbox console, if in need of wireless in-ear audio.

Other ways to connect AirPods to Xbox

While remote play is the simplest way to use Bluetooth headphones like AirPods with Xbox consoles, alternate methods involve extra hardware. These options bypass the existing offerings of Xbox consoles, excluding features like voice chat in the process. But there are valid alternatives to the remote play workaround if you want a direct line to your Xbox gameplay audio.

Bluetooth support has rapidly evolved into a standard feature on TVs, and in many cases, allows headphones to work with Xbox consoles. Your Xbox console routes to your TV over HDMI before wirelessly transmitting that audio to connected headphones. The steps to connect wireless earbuds like AirPods widely varies between TV models, although official documentation is often available via the manufacturer's website.

Third-party Bluetooth adapters are also available for Xbox consoles, hooking up to an Xbox Wireless Controller via the integrated 3.5mm headphone jack. Compared to other workarounds, these standalone pucks provide a low-latency connection for stereo audio, although most require additional steps to pair and operate. Bluetooth adapters retail $37 on Amazon, compatible with modern Xbox One controllers.

One-Stop Bluetooth

Xbox One Bluetooth Adapter

Wireless Bluetooth Xbox Stereo Headset Audio Adapter for Xbox One

This compact Bluetooth puck connects to your Xbox controller, expanding your console to AirPods and other wireless earbuds.

Cut the cord

Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods

AirPods remain one of the best wireless audio options for iPhone users, delivering cable-free listening, touch gestures, and up to 24-hour battery with the included charging case. While they're not compatible with Xbox, this workaround is the closest yet.

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