September 13, 2016 10:00 AM
Jim Dalrymple wrote a hands-on review of Apple's new wireless headphones, over at Loop Insight. I just love how he opens his review.
I have seen all kinds crazy things written since the keynote about the AirPods. Some people say they will drop out of their ears when they walk or run, others say we will lose them because they are so small.
Most of these things have been written by people that have never touched the AirPods. I have been using them for almost a week now and I can tell you that those concerns are not warranted at all.
I am not a child, so I think I can keep track of my AirPods—I have for a week with no problem at all. If you don’t think it’s within your ability to keep track of a pair of headphones, then clearly these are not the right accessory for you.
People in the tech industry seem to have a real problem with critiquing anything new, before they've even tried it or talked to anyone who has. It's a weird obsession — this idea that everything new is stupid — especially for an industry built around new and untried ideas.
Now let's let Jim talk about what intrigues me the most: how the AirPods solve the massive problem that Bluetooth headphones have pairing (and re-pairing) to different devices.
The AirPods will respond to whatever device invokes them. For instances, when you put them in your ears, you will hear a tone telling you they are ready. Press play in Apple Music on your iPhone and music will start playing. If you then press play on your Apple Watch playlist, the AirPods will automatically switch to that device for playback.
I was playing a song from my Apple Watch, activated Siri on my iPhone 7, the AirPods switched and activated the mic, I asked Siri a question, and when I was finished they automatically connected back to the watch to finish the song.
That’s pretty cool.
The AirPods also know when they are in your ears. If you are listening to music and someone comes up to speak with you or you’re in line ordering a coffee, you can just take one out and the music will automatically pause. When you put the AirPod back in your ear, the music will start playing again automatically.
And how's battery life?
I will say this: the only time I ran out of battery on the AirPods is when I meant to run the dry. It took 15-20 minutes to get them charged to 100% using the charging case.
On making phone calls and using Siri:
The AirPods will also seamlessly switch when a phone calls in as well. I’ve made and received phone calls using both headphones, in which case you can hear out of both headphones; taken out the left headphone, which then turns off; did the same with the right headphone; and then put them both back in.
The mics on the AirPods seem to be very good, although its hard to do a meaningful test when you can’t tell people why you want to test the microphone. I had one person comment, unsolicited, that I sounded really good while using the AirPods, but he didn’t know why. I didn’t tell him.
Using a double-tap on the side of the AirPods will invoke Siri when using the iPhone. It will pause the music, and then bring up Siri—ask your question, Siri will give you the answer and then return to playing the music in 5 seconds. A completely hands-free operation.
You can change this to have the double-tap do play/pause instead on the iPhone if you like. This is what happens when you use double-tap on AirPods using the Apple Watch.
These are the details that we expect to get right and they certainly did with the AirPods and how they work with the different devices we use.
At $160, I really don't want to like the AirPods. That's a lot of money to spend on headphones. But the magic ability to switch audio from one source to another, to another is seductive. No other headphone on the market can do this. And switching devices is such a pain that $160 starts to seem like a reasonable price to pay to make the pain go away.
If I used a Mac at the office, I think I'd be a lot more likely to buy AirPods. But since my Windows desktop will be unable to use them (it doesn't have built-in Bluetooth), I'm not sure it's worth it to buy headphones that I can only use at home or with iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
Remind of these doubts when you see me wearing AirPods next summer.