Why is the volume control not working on Apple earbuds on Android?

Apple earbuds and Android devices have limited interoperability. One of the main issues users encounter is that the volume controls on Apple earbuds often do not work when connected to an Android phone.

On Apple devices, volume controls and playback capabilities of Apple earbuds are able to function through Apple’s proprietary W1 chip or H1 chip that enables communication between the earbuds and iPhone, iPad, or other Apple devices. However, Android devices lack this proprietary Apple chip technology. As a result, basic functionality can be impaired when using Apple earbuds with Android devices.

Compatibility Issues Between Apple and Android

There have long been fundamental differences between the Apple and Android platforms that lead to compatibility issues (Apple agrees). iPhones operate on Apple’s closed iOS operating system, while Android phones utilize Google’s open-source Android operating system. These differing systems and business models often present interoperability challenges.

For example, one key compatibility issue relates to default text messaging and group chats. iPhones primarily utilize Apple’s proprietary iMessage platform which seamlessly syncs texts between iOS devices using an internet connection. Messages sent over iMessage appear in blue bubbles. Meanwhile, Android devices rely on SMS/MMS technology to send standard text messages over cellular networks in green bubbles (Apple can fix). This leads to inconsistent messaging experiences, especially in group chats with a mix of iPhone and Android users.

Volume Control on Apple Earbuds

Apple earbuds like AirPods utilize a proprietary Apple chip to enable features like volume control, music playback, and access to Siri. As Apple notes in their own support documentation, “To turn the volume up or down, say “Hey Siri,” then say something like “Turn up the volume” or “Turn down the volume.” Or drag the volume slider in Control Center” (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212203).

Essentially, the Apple H1 or W1 chip included in AirPods communicates wirelessly with Apple devices to enable touch and voice controls. Users can tap or squeeze their earbuds to adjust volume, play/pause audio, etc. This allows for convenient access without needing to grab their iPhone. However, it relies on device-specific Apple chips and software integration to work.

Lack of Apple Chip in Android Devices

The Apple earbuds require the Apple W1 or H1 chip to enable control of volume and other functions like activating Siri (see this forum post for more details). The W1 and H1 chips are proprietary to Apple and are designed specifically to work with Apple devices and earbuds.

Android smartphones and tablets lack these Apple chips, so there is no dedicated connectivity with Apple earbuds for features like volume adjustment. Without the chip, basic functions work, like playing audio, but more advanced controls do not. This incompatibility stems from Apple’s closed ecosystem approach.

Essentially, key hardware like the W1/H1 chip that unlocks special features for Apple devices is missing in Android products. So Android users with Apple earbuds lose out on certain functions as a result of this ecosystem divide.

Alternative Volume Control Options on Android

Since Apple earbuds lack the necessary Apple chip to enable the integrated volume controls to work properly on Android devices, users need to rely on alternative volume control methods. The two main options are:

Manual Phone Volume Controls

Android devices have built-in manual volume controls that can be accessed in different ways depending on the specific model. For example, most Android phones have physical volume buttons on the side of the device that can be pressed to turn the volume up or down. Additionally, there is typically an onscreen volume slider in the notification panel or quick settings that allows manual adjustment of the volume level.

Third Party Apps

There are various third party Android apps available that add additional volume control functionality when using Bluetooth headphones like Apple earbuds. These apps reside in the notification shade and allow volume adjustment directly from there rather than having to navigate to the main system volume controller. Some popular options include Volume Control,
Volume Control Pro, and Volume Booster GOODEV.

Potential Workarounds

There are a few potential workarounds to get the volume control working on Apple earbuds when used with an Android device.


Using a special adapter or dongle that converts the signals from the Apple earbuds into something an Android device can understand may allow the volume control to work properly. For example, this Quora discussion mentions using an adapter originally made for using Apple earbuds on planes that can also enable volume control on Android.


For some Android devices, jailbreaking the device and installing custom firmware can potentially allow the volume buttons on Apple earbuds to work. However, this requires advanced technical knowledge and carries risks of destabilizing the operating system. Consult technical forums and communities before attempting any jailbreaking procedures.

Apple’s Closed Ecosystem

Apple is well known for maintaining a very closed ecosystem of devices and services. This closed ecosystem is made possible by Apple’s proprietary technologies and control over both hardware and software. As this article explains, Apple has “complete control over both the software (the iOS and iPadOS operating systems) and the hardware (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch).”

At the center of Apple’s closed ecosystem is its reliance on proprietary chips, connectors, and protocols that only work with other Apple devices. For example, Apple’s Lightning connector for charging and syncing devices is designed specifically for Apple products. This type of tight integration between hardware and software allows Apple to create a very streamlined user experience, but also locks users into Apple’s ecosystem.

Additionally, Apple employs a “walled garden” approach when it comes to the App Store and app development. Apps must follow strict guidelines and developers cannot build apps that access certain functions and hardware without Apple’s approval. This level of control enables Apple to better curate quality apps but limits flexibility for developers. It also serves to further lock users into Apple’s platforms by restricting third-party interoperability and limiting customer choice.

Calls for Greater Interoperability

There have been increasing calls from consumers and regulators for Apple to make its products and services more compatible with other platforms like Android. Many argue that Apple’s closed ecosystem limits choice and innovation, and better interoperability between devices and services could benefit consumers.

For example, Apple’s iMessage is incompatible with cross-platform messaging apps and Android phones by design. This limits users’ communication options and locks them into Apple’s platform. Some regulators argue that Apple should be required to open up iMessage to other platforms, citing anti-competitiveness concerns.

There have also been numerous consumer complaints over incompatible technologies like Apple’s proprietary Lightning cables versus Android’s USB-C. Calls for standardization have led the EU to mandate USB-C charging on new smartphones starting in 2024. This aims to reduce e-waste and improve convenience for consumers.

While progress has been made, Apple continues to promote its closed ecosystem in many areas. However, with mounting regulatory scrutiny and consumer frustration over compatibility issues, there may be increasing impetus for Apple to cooperate more with other platforms going forward.

Outlook for the Future

There are some promising signs that Apple may be opening up their ecosystem more to improve compatibility with Android devices. Most notably, Apple has announced that the next iPhone will have RCS compatibility with Android devices, according to Gizmodo. This should significantly improve the texting experience between iPhones and Android phones. RCS supports features like read receipts, typing indicators, higher quality images, video, and audio messages, and group chats – bringing it more in line with iMessage. While a step in the right direction, true seamlessness between the two operating systems still has a ways to go.

At the core, Apple and Android have fundamentally different philosophies. Apple tightly controls both the hardware and software of its devices to optimize the user experience. Google’s Android operating system is open source and gives device makers much more freedom and customization. These divergent approaches mean the two ecosystems are unlikely to ever be fully compatible. But with technology like RCS helping bridge the gap, users can hope for a future where switching between Apple and Android devices has fewer friction points.


In summary, Apple earbuds’ volume control not working on Android devices stems from Apple’s proprietary control chip and closed ecosystem approach. This chip enables the earbuds to interface with iOS devices in a seamless way, but its absence in Android devices results in lost functionality. While some workarounds like third party apps allow limited volume control, they have drawbacks and cannot replicate the native integration. This reflects the broader lack of interoperability between Apple’s closed iOS ecosystem and other platforms like Android. While calls continue for greater compatibility, Apple has shown little inclination to open up its ecosystem. The outlook is for the status quo to continue, with functionality like volume control limited when using Apple earbuds with non-Apple devices absent bigger changes in Apple’s strategy.

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