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How to Use AirPods As a Gaming Headset

If you want to use your AirPods as a gaming headset, you can. But it's far from perfect.

tech roundup
Tucker Bowe

Want to use your AirPods, or any pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones, as a gaming headset with an Xbox One. Good news: you can! It's pretty simple, but not quite perfect. If you want to give it a try and see if it suits your needs, here's how.

How to connect AirPods to an Xbox One for Party Chat

  1. Turn on your Xbox One.
  2. Put on your AirPods and pair them with your iPhone.
  3. Open the Xbox app on your iPhone.
  4. Make sure you're logged into your Xbox Live account.
  5. Select the social tab (second from left) at the bottom of your screen.
  6. If your friends are already online, select one of them and hit the headset icon.
  7. (If you wish to start your own party, select the headset icon in the top-right corner.)

    From here, you should be able to talk to your friends just like you would with a normal gaming headset. Just remember that you'll want to have your iPhone nearby while you're gaming, as that's what your AirPods are connected to (not the Xbox or your controller). When finished, the easiest way to leave the party is to close the Xbox app on your iPhone.

    The one big caveat

    There's one glaring downside to using AirPods (or any Bluetooth headphones) as a gaming headset — you'll need to decide if you want to talk to friends or if you want to hear the in-game audio. Unfortunately, you can't do both at the same time.

    The reason why AirPods won't play in-game audio is that the Xbox One (and Xbox Series consoles) don't support Bluetooth. Microsoft has its own proprietary technology that allows a select few wireless headsets to work properly as gaming headsets, like its own Xbox Wireless Headset ($100) or the SteelSeries Arctis 9x ($200), but most wireless headphones don't support that. That includes Apple's AirPods.

    If you want use your AirPods to hear the in-game audio and you're OK with not talking to friends — maybe you're just trying to be quiet — you can buy a Bluetooth dongle, like Twelve South's AirFly Pro ($55), and use its 3.5mm jack to connect to your Xbox controller.

      Can you use AirPods as a gaming headset with PlayStation?

      Unfortunately no. There's not even a workaround using the PlayStation mobile app like there is with Xbox. Your only option is to get a Bluetooth adapter and connect to your controller; you'll be able to hear the in-game audio, but won't be able to chat with friends online.

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