The iOS 14 software update includes a new feature relevant to AirPods owners: it enables them to automatically switch the device they are connected to, depending on where audio playback is taking place. If your AirPods are connected to an iPhone, but then an iPad on the same Apple ID starts playing music, they will switch to the new audio source.

This can be practical - but it can also be annoying. In this article we show how to disable the automatic switching feature on your AirPods or AirPods Pro, and stop them randomly connecting to other people's iPads and iPhones.

Why do AirPods automatically switch devices?

The auto switching feature is designed to make life easier for AirPods owners.

Let's say you listen to music from your iPhone on the way home from work. Once home, you pick up your iPad and use it to watch some YouTube videos. It's convenient for your AirPods to recognise the change of device and automatically connect to your iPad so you can continue listening seamlessly without having to adjust any settings.

But there are pitfalls to this arrangement. A parent might, for example, be enjoying a rare moment of peace with a cricket podcast on their iPhone, whereupon their AirPods suddenly start blaring the audio from the Netflix cartoon a nearby child has started streaming on their iPad. This can be frustrating.

For this reason some users would like to determine for themselves which device their AirPods connect to. Luckily this is possible, and you only have to change one setting.

If your problem is that your AirPods keep disconnecting read: How to fix AirPods disconnecting from iPhone

How to stop AirPods switching to a new device

You can set AirPods handover preferences individually on each device. So you can say you want your AirPods to automatically connect to your iPhone, but not to your iPad. The option for this can be found in the Settings.

We will show you how to do this using the example of an iPhone, but the process is identical on the iPad.

  1. Make sure that your AirPods and iPhone are connected.
  2. Open Settings.
  3. Tap on Bluetooth.
  4. In the list, tap the little 'i' next to your AirPods.
  5. Tap 'Connect to This iPhone'.How to stop AirPods connecting to other iPhones & iPads: Connect to iPhone
  6. Instead of 'Automatically', select 'When Last Connected to This iPhone'. How to stop AirPods connecting to other iPhones & iPads: When Last connected

'Last Connected to This iPhone' means your AirPods will automatically try to connect to the last connected device. If you last listened to music on your iPhone and activate your AirPods again a little later, they will try to connect to the iPhone again.

'Automatically' is a new option added in iOS 14 which searches for devices with active playback and connects to them. If you have one playback active and start a second playback on another device, the first playback will pause and your AirPods will connect to the device whose playback was started later.

Automatic switching can be frustrating, but there are other AirPods features well worth trying. We've got a separate tutorial for those who would like to take advantage of the AirPods Pro spatial audio surround sound.

And what of the new features that will be possible with the next generation of hardware? For clues about what's coming this year, read our new AirPods (2021) news hub. We also track AirPod discounts so you can get the best deal on a pair from the current range.

This article originally appeared on Macwelt. Translation by Karen Haslam.