Although there’s no shortage of Bluetooth adapters out there that will let you connect your wired headphones to an iPhone or other Bluetooth device, Twelve South has gone with other way with its new AirFly — a Bluetooth adapter that’s designed instead to connect to your wireless headphones, allowing you to use them with any number of devices that may not have built-in Bluetooth capabilities, ranging from legacy digital audio players to in-flight entertainment systems.
AirFly gets its name from Twelve South’s primary target market — those who want to be able to use their Apple AirPods when flying — and sports a design to match. However, in reality AirFly works with any wireless Bluetooth headphones, and can pull audio from anything with a 3.5mm audio output jack. In fact, you can even use it with Bluetooth speakers.
In the package you’ll find the AirFly unit itself, which is about the size of a matchbox, along with two short cables for 3.5mm audio and USB-to-micro-USB charging. A drawstring pouch is also included to keep it all together. Twelve South promises eight hours of battery life on a single charge.
Twelve South provides specific instructions for pairing AirPods with AirFly, which basically just explains the standard procedure of putting the AirPods in their charging case and pressing and holding the button on the back of the case to enter universal Bluetooth pairing mode — not surprisingly, AirFly doesn’t include a W1 chip, so it pairs with your AirPods as a standard Bluetooth device.
The pairing process on AirFly itself is the same whether you’re using AirPods or any other Bluetooth A2DP device, which involves holding the button on AirFly down for about five seconds until it flashes amber and then waiting for it to link up. The process is pretty straightforward, but unlike pairing a Bluetooth device with an iPhone, you’re “flying blind” since there’s no screen to show you what’s happening; some third-party Bluetooth headsets required that we turn off Bluetooth on other nearby devices such as our iPhone and Apple Watch first in order to disconnect their other Bluetooth connections. Notably, however, the AirPods didn’t have this issue since placing them in the case with the lid closed disables their connection to nearby Apple devices.
AirFly does a great job for purely listening to music, but it’s worth noting that headphone controls aren’t passed through in any way, so you won’t be able to play or pause music playback, even if you’re listening to a device with an MFi-compatible headphone jack.