Anybody keeping up with Apple news will be aware of their controversial removal of the iPhone 7’s headphone jack. In the same flow of information, one is likely to have heard of Apple’s new AirPods. So what are these “AirPods” and why should you care about them?
AirPods is an evolution of Apple’s EarPods – the headphones that ship with every iPhone. AirPods look just like the EarPods but do not have any cables and have a longer “stem”. AirPods work via Bluetooth and come with a special W1 chip that allows the device to quickly and seamlessly connect with Apple’s products. You can use these with non-Apple products over Bluetooth too but you will not be able to use most of the features.
What are these features you ask? The AirPods have built in accelerometers and proximity sensors which are used to stop music playback when one AirPod is removed. They have rudimentary touch controls too which allow you to play or pause music with a single tap or activate Siri with a double tap. There are no in line controls with these headphones so the only way to skip tracks or change volume is to activate Siri and then ask her to do either of those. A great convenience for Apple users is that the AirPods can seamlessly switch between your Apple products so long as you are logged in with your Apple account. The AirPods also come in a case that is used to recharge them. This case can extend battery life of the device up to 24 hours which is a welcome feature given that the AirPods can only last for 5 hours per charge and that too on optimized Apple devices only.
While many were concerned about accidentally losing an AirPod while on a run, the wireless design makes for a much more secure fit and actually decreases the likelihood of the AirPods falling out.
So far the AirPods sound like some very interesting and useful headphones albeit with a few quirks but here’s the catch, they cost $159 and replacing a single lost AirPod costs $79. You will hear many complain on and on about their silly unattractive appearance, the likelihood of losing an AirPod and the inconvenience for non Apple products. However, the main argument in my opinion is the fact that the AirPods are merely wireless versions of the EarPods – meaning they sound just like overpriced $29 headphones and not like higher end headphones with a $160 price tag. You can expect these headphones to be imported in small quantities by some local stores in Bangladesh and be sure that they will charge you much more than the $160 equivalent in Bangladeshi Taka.
The AirPods, like virtually every first generation Apple product, comes with some glaring flaws and the typical “Apple Tax”. Even though these are not the first wireless earphones in the market we know from past experience that when Apple releases a product like this, other companies quickly follow suit and try to one up Apple. Therefore it is safe to say that we will see some very interesting wireless earphones in 2017 that compete with AirPods in both price and sound quality. For now, it would be best to wait for the second generation of AirPods or other similar products and let the hardcore Apple fans deal with this expensive toy.