I always get nervous about writing about or discussing seemingly simple products that not everyone is immediately interested in. To me, the Apple AirPods represent that category of product.
Yes, they are headphones. Yes they are wireless. Both of those things exist. But they are so much more. They represent a huge technological achievement for Apple (and for us). The miniaturization of batteries, electronics and headphones to look and appear so similar to the wired versions.
When you first take them out of the box and un-click the case you are hopefully paying attention to the quality of the design and use of magnets and springs to produce a smooth and silky movement. FOR A CASE.
At the moment you open the case, your phone (if it's close enough) automatically pairs with your AirPods. If you have ever paired a bluetooth device you now know how much better this is. What you may not realize is that the AirPods are now ready to use with ALL your iDevices. No more pairing to your iPad, Mac etc. This is classic Apple / Hardware / Software integration. Make something that sucks, better.
The case is actually a battery for the AirPods, charging them while they are being stored. This is clever. They will charge the AirPods with enough juice for 24h of listening.
Once you take the AirPods out and insert them in your ear you realize almost everything you hated about headphones was the cord. That dang cord is the reason they fall out of your ears as you move.
I found the audio rather impressive too. Never a fan of the Apple EarPods that come with every iOS device I don't know if this is better or worse.
Now, the AirPods have some cool features.
- You can use one or both. I love using just one to listen to Podcasts and Audio Books while also paying attention to my surroundings.
- When you take one out of your ear, they pause automatically. This lets you talk to someone, place the AirPod back in and resume listening
- When you double tap on either AirPod Siri is activated and you can issue voice commands. You can also change this setting to invoke Play/Pause
For me, the largest weakness of the AirPod is the Siri feature. Siri is not a good interface for quick audio commands (Play/Pause/Volume/Skip). I would have much preferred that you could double tap or triple tap to play/pause/skip. I would also like slide up or down for volume. Another nice idea would be for each AirPod to have different double tap settings (Left for Siri, Right for Play/Pause or Skip).
You would think that having an Apple Watch might solve this, but sadly it does not. The Apple Watch should become aware you are playing audio via AirPods and using Handoff suggest a Now Playing Watch face or something to make it easier to play/pause/skip/volume.
The big story for me is that the AirPods represent a huge technological achievement for a future of always-on wearables. A voice assistant embedded on your body either through smaller AirPods that are more like a tiny earbud, eye glasses, or something else.
It's nothing short of a miracle that Apple has managed to shrink this much technology into such as small and useful package. The implications for me are that I listen to a lot more Podcasts and Audio Books. I carry my AirPods in my front pocket now along with my wallet and lip balm. I can take them out and pop them in without any hassles or compromises. I never used to carry headphones before because of the corded mess, but the Apple AirPods have changed all that.
Beyond this, I also used them skiing yesterday for the first time. I popped one under my helmet and with that could bark text messages to people, read text messages and listen to music while also being safe by having another ear free to listen around.
AirPods are super had to purchase right now. I recommend you check your Apple Store for inventory a few times a day as they receive shipments almost every day (and sell out). This website will tell you where they are available. I also wrote a Workflow for iOS that will check Apple Inventory, and also a Python script. I managed to get a pair the launch week by running these a few times a day.
This product represents the best of Apple, and I've been so excited to get my hands on it. I truly love this product. Not just for what it can do today, but because it's a meaningful waypoint to the future.
OmarKnows Rating: Recommended
I'll leave you with this Apple Commercial to watch