Earlier this year, Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 with its lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack. While Apple wasn’t the first to do it, they obviously riled up the most attention and backlash, throwing “courage” back at the company that’s putting a lot of focus on a wireless (accessories) future for its flagship smartphones.
One step towards that direction is more wireless headphones. That includes more Beats-branded options, and the top of the list: AirPods. Apple’s first major foray into truly wireless earphones, they share a similar design aesthetic to the standard EarPods, but obviously they lack any wires.
There are a lot of bullet points to consider when looking at the AirPods, too. They can sense when they are in your ears, and they’ll pause automatically when you take them out. There’s a simple one-tap setup process, too, which can make it easy to sync up with other Apple products, so quickly switching sources —especially with Control Center— will be easy.
There’s the W1 chip inside the tiny frame, which manages better battery life, and Apple says it will also improve wireless connectivity to boot. There is five hours worth of listening, 24 hours of overall battery life, and charging them for 15 minutes will net you three hours of battery life.
Like I said, there’s a lot of good stuff here.
You tap on the AirPod and you call up Siri — that’s how you control things. The important things, like making a call, play a playlist, ask Siri how to get somewhere, and how to adjust the volume of what’s playing. So if you don’t want to touch your phone, and you want to turn up the volume, you have to ask Siri to do that.
All of that to get here: How comfortable is that in every day usage? I can’t help but think that Apple stacked the AirPods with so much technology, that they almost got lost in the conception of it, and the technical rollout, that they overlooked a simple feature in physical controls.
There are physical controls, of course. You have to tap either AirPod to get access to Siri, after all. But why stop there? We’ve seen other truly wireless headphones on the market that offer on-device controls, like the Beats Solo3 for instance, and others have just as small a profile as the AirPods.
Physical controls would be easier to control playback and volume, and it also avoids any kind of awkwardness when you might happen to be around people. Talking to yourself, or to Siri, just to turn up the volume? Seems like a genuinely strange path to go down.
The other features in the AirPods still have me interested, especially how easy it will be to connect to devices, but that voice-only controls has me hesitant. So I’m curious: How do you feel about the AirPods? Are they on your radar at all? Or do you plan on picking up other truly wireless headphones instead? Let me know!