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Apple AirPods: First Thoughts

In short: they’re awesome.

No, really. These are my very first thoughts because I’ve only had them for half a day, but I’ve been very impressed. The connection to my iPhone and Mac is seamless, requiring none of the usual Bluetooth configuration, and the audio quality is right up there. Sure, they’re not going to compete with the professional audio offerings, but they sound better than the standard wired Apple earphones with a lot more depth. But no one is buying these purely for the sound quality — it’s mostly about the convenience. The ease of access. And as someone who mostly listens to podcasts and audiobooks, convenience is king.

Yeah, but, £159?

I know, I know. You can buy cheaper headphones that sound better. You can buy cheaper headphones that are wireless. But you can’t buy cheaper headphones that connect so seamlessly, that don’t even have a wire between the left and right channels, and that offer 24 hours of battery life.

It’s a little easier to justify the price once you’ve seen them. To pack so much technology into such a small space is incredible. These are hardly any bigger than the wired versions, yet they manage to pack a battery, wireless transmitter, microphone, microprocessor, and optical and accelerometer sensors into each AirPod. It’s because Apple products are priced the way that they are that allows for the huge levels of research and development.

I don’t think everyone is going to buy AirPods, but I do think that everyone will benefit from this technology. In 10 years when headphones are nothing more than a tiny chip that lives behind your ear, we’ll get there in part thanks to the R&D that goes on at not just Apple, but their competitors too. Because when one company raises the bar, the competition has to raise it again.

Originally posted on April 6, 2017