All commands and gestures, explained

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The AirPods Pro 2 might not be too different from the original AirPods Pro, but this new pair brings enough improvements – better sound, active noise cancellation and slightly longer battery life – that they are intended to be a huge success.

The new AirPods Pro 2 also gained new gestures for volume control, as well as ear swiping (using the iPhone’s TrueDepth camera system) for “custom spatial audio”. Add them to the already existing commands, and those new to AirPods Pro may be confused. We are here to help you. Here’s our complete guide to all the commands and gestures you can perform with the AirPods Pro 2.

    Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

    The new AirPods Pro improve in every area that matters, including sound, battery, and new features.

It’s all in the rods

airpods pro stems

When the original AirPods were introduced many joked about its design, but as usual Apple had the last laugh since many wireless earbuds adopted the stalk look. There is an obvious advantage to having stems. They offload some of the hardware components from the main earbuds so they’re less bulky; they can house microphones closer to our mouths; and they allow for easier controls as the stems can house capacitive touch panels.

The touchscreens on each side do the same by default:

  • A single press starts or pauses audio playback
  • Long press to switch between active noise cancellation (ANC) or transparency mode
  • Double tap to skip to next track
  • Triple tap to return to the previous track

These controls have been in place since 2019’s AirPods Pro, but the new 2022 second-gen models add a new action:

Go to settings and you can assign specific actions to long presses. For example, I set it so long that pressing the left stalk panel triggers Siri instead of switching between noise canceling modes. In the settings, you can also add a neutral listening mode which is neither ANC nor transparency mode.

Voice commands also work

You can also access Siri via voice by saying “Hey Siri” out loud. Thanks to the three microphones on each bud, I find that even when I’m out on city streets, the AirPods can pick up my command and summon Siri accordingly.

airpods pro 2

Head tracking

It’s not a specific control feature per se, but the AirPods Pro 2 can also detect head movements, which are used for listening sessions with Spatial Audio. When music is playing and Spatial Audio is enabled, you can hear sound move from one side of your ear to the other if you turn your head, as if the music source is in a space real in front of you.

Call commands

You can answer and decline phone calls while wearing AirPods Pro 2.

  • A simple squeeze/press on the stem answers the phone call.
  • Double tap the stalk to decline the incoming phone call.

Once you answer the call, you can also tap the stem to end the call.


One thing that sets the AirPods Pro 2 apart from many other headphones is that these gestures all work very well and have small hardware or software improvements. For example, the haptic motor inside the rods is excellent, giving a tactile click every time you press it. Swipes will also provide an audible, satisfying click like you’ve physically flipped a switch.

    Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation)

    The new AirPods Pro improve in every area that matters, including sound, battery, and new features.

Factor in the excellent sound quality and seamless connectivity with iOS devices, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. If you’re not sold on the AirPods Pro 2, there are plenty of other great wireless earbuds available.

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