As you might know, when Apple first announced their wireless headphones, called AirPods, I was skeptical, because they’re a) $160 and b) easily lost. It seemed like a poor justification for ditching the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. I now have a pair. And I can say that a) and b) are still both true. But, now that I have them, I can also say that AirPods are awesome. Someone really thought about how this product should work, and executed beautifully.
First off, if the wired EarPods that come with your phone fit your ears well, these will too. If not, then not; don’t get them.
The AirPods live in a very small case, which amusingly resembles a dental floss dispenser. It’s full of carefully placed magnets, so the AirPods snap in and the lid snaps shut. You charge the case with a Lightning cable; the case charges the AirPods. I probably charge the case once or twice a week. You can use both AirPods, or you can use them one at a time (which allows you to switch off, for long phone calls). There’s nothing to configure; it just figures it out.
AirPods are smart enough to know whether or they’ve been removed from your ear, and so they’ll stop what you’re playing. If you put them back in, what you’re watching or listening to will resume. You can also use Siri through them.
Usually, pairing Bluetooth devices can be a pain. AirPods are different. You just open the case in immediate proximity to your iPhone, and…blam. Done. And once you’ve done that, every other one of your Apple computers and devices are paired, too. You can easily switch to use them them on a Mac, by choosing “AirPods” from the Bluetooth menu. (And if you want to use them with a non-Apple device, there’s a button for traditional Bluetooth pairing.)
I have a few small complaints:
- Phone calls sometimes create a buzzing distortion for a couple of minutes. This eventually resolves itself, but I hope Apple fixes it in a software update.
- There’s no light to tell you that the case is actually charging when it’s plugged in to a Lightning cable.
- I have lots of worries about losing them, and/or losing the case; fortunately, a Find My AirPods feature has been added to iOS 10.3, but I don’t know how well it works.
In conclusion, AirPods are expensive, easy to lose, and dorky, but as far as I’m concerned, worth every penny.
Apple also recently announced mild updates to their iPad line and iPhone SE. Product names remain unnecessarily complicated…
The iPad Air 2 has been been replaced by the — wait for it — iPad. It’s a bit more powerful than the Air 2, but physically identical to the thicker, heavier, glossier Air 1. It’s also now the cheapest iPad, starting at $329 for 32 MB.
The iPad mini 4 now only comes in one size, 128 GB, but for the same price of $399 that the 32 MB model used to sell for. Nice.
The iPhone SE, which is most of an iPhone 6s but in a 5s body, remains the same price (starting at $399), but doubles its capacity to either 32 GB or 128 GB. Most welcome if you want a classic tiny iPhone. I am glad to see the last of the 16 GB devices finally gone.
The iPhone 7 is now available in a red color, with some (unspecified) amount of proceeds going to AIDS research.