Apple’s AirPods: The Brave will be Rewarded

There has been a lot written about Apple’s move away from the audio jack, before and after it actually happened. Many people are outraged a technology that has been around for so long and still supported by so many hardware vendors was “taken” away so abruptly, so prematurely.

We heard similar outcries when Apple adopted a USB Type-C only port for its MacBook. And people were not too happy when Google moved to USB Type-C for its Nexus line. Sadly, as painful as it is, if we want change, we need to make the first step. But, when that happens, we are never happy.

Change sucks! And Apple knows that so it does not take it lightly nor does it think all its iPhone installed base is ready for it. What I find particularly interesting about this saga is Apple has actually been quite considerate in including an adapter so users can use other headsets with their iPhone if they wish. This is about making sure consumers do not have to pay a high price for Apple’s desire to move ahead. But there is a price: $40 for a third party adapter that allows you charge your iPhone 7 and 7 Plus while continuing to use your headset. While the availability of such an adapter was one of my first questions to Apple, I came to realize, as I thought through the different scenarios, I can count on the fingers of one hand when I actually found myself needing to do that. So, while I might end up buying one, it is more as a security blanket than an actual need. Of course, if I do not want to have that problem at all, I could buy the new AirPods for $119 more than the EarPods adapter would cost. And the AirPods are really the story here.

A Cornerstone of the Device Ecosystem Experience

As with the EarPods, Apple designed and brought to market the AirPods under its own brand because they are going to be key to the user experience with the iPhone and other devices. If it were just a question of selling an accessory, Apple could have easily created a set of wireless headphones under the Beats brand and added them to the other new headsets introduced on stage. But the AirPods are not just an accessory. They are an important tool to show users who are embedded in the ecosystem the power of owning multiple devices. Think about the call functionality already going over the Watch and the Mac. And now, think of the fact Apple took time on stage to tell us that, when we connect our AirPods to the iPhone, they are automatically connected to our other devices through iCloud. Now I can take a call from my Watch without looking like an angry Dick Tracy or from my Mac without shouting at it. Think about listening to music from your Watch while you run or getting directions while you walk through the city. After all, many wanted GPS so they could leave their phone at home, no?

Cut the Cord and Let Siri Free

The choice of devices the AirPods empower is also an incredible opportunity for Siri to play a much more active and personal role day to day. This, in turn, will increase our dependence on her (yes I do personify Siri the same as I do Alexa). AirPods could improve our experience, particularly in the home, not just with Apple TV but with other HomeKit-enabled devices. It will also make it easier in environments where there are different devices and users so my Siri will respond only to me; she will be truly my personal assistant. I do not think what we have today is the end goal — there are still things that need to be worked on — but this first generation of AirPods clearly show what the future could look like. While a 5 hour battery life to listen to music might not seem like enough to many, you do not need both pods to interact with Siri — which means you can potentially cover a full day of Siri interactions using the charge in the holder. Music lovers might not like the fact Siri stops the music so she can better hear your comments but even this should be something that can be changed in future iterations.

Look at the Apple Watch to See the Progression

The bottom line is that, in a very similar way to Apple Watch Series 1, with AirPods you are buying into the future not quite knowing what the immediate benefits will be. Users will discover benefits as they go along and will help Apple refine the experience in the process, exactly as it happened with Apple Watch Series 2.

One of the complaints I heard was about Apple’s misjudged list of priorities: wireless headphones came before wireless charging. As much as I like the convenience of wireless charging, the reality is, whatever your device is using to charge — pad, pillow, stand — it still requires a wire into the wall. So, while it might look nicer, it does not actually change your behavior unless I am missing something. This is why, at the end of the day, for a company that never does tech for tech’s sake, prioritizing wireless charging did not make sense.

The approach Apple took with the removal of the audio jack and the addition of the Lightning EarPods alongside the AirPods shows Apple’s appreciation of its user base that is now no longer made up of just early adopters. While early adopters will likely jump on the AirPods, the rest of the base will have the time to adjust to the idea without feeling they are missing out on what the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have to offer.

Published by

Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTechโ€™s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the โ€œ101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interestingโ€ by Wired Italy.

75 thoughts on “Apple’s AirPods: The Brave will be Rewarded”

  1. Have you ever actually used a wirelessly charging device ?I had wireless charging a good long while ago on my HP Touchpad; I still miss it as much as other often-overlooked convenience features that my phone du year sometimes lack (AMOLED, FM radio, tap to wake, now TouchID too I guess).

    Not having to plug in changes a lot, especially because wireless chargers come in cradles or mats. Instead of your phone/tablet getting empty when you’re at your desk or when you lay it onto your night table when falling asleep, it charges (and still remains in “usable” position when on a desk cradle). Instead of having to fish for the wire and fiddle with the connector, you just plunk your phone down, so your phone gets umpteen small charges per day instead of an emergency one when it’s dying.

    Having wired charging cradles is close, but those are specific to each model, I gave up on them especially since I need a handful for each device. Plus aiming the plug on those is still fiddly.

    Wireless does make a difference; you should try it, except I’m guessing you’re 100% iOS+MacOS like all contributors to Techpinions ๐Ÿ™ , so you can’t.

    As for switching to proprietary+licensed audio connectors and protocols, I see it as a step back. Now we’ll have 3 fragments in the market: legacy/jack, Apple, USB-C. What a waste.
    Also, I’m not sure earplugs can ever become socially acceptable; that’ll be a good test of Apple’s trendsetting power. And One More Thing To Charge is exactly the opposite of what I want.
    Was anyone complaining about the quality / convenience of the current jack + BT audio setup ? Which problem does this solve except shaving 0.5mm (if that) off iPhones ? Carrying the $10 dongle probably isn’t a deal-braker for the Apple crowd. It seem to be about 50% of the volume of the intra headset that usually ends up in my pocket, so I for one wouldn’t be “delighted” about it though.

    1. “Was anyone complaining about the quality / convenience of the current jack + BT audio setup ? Which problem does this solve except shaving 0.5mm (if that) off iPhones ?”

      Exactly. If Apple wanted to make room, it was their problem to solve (there is tons of room to GROW), not by solving their problem on the backs of their customers. Needing an adapter to use my already very expensive headphones…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And people get upset when you accuse Apple (and their supporters) of vanity over function.

      1. I don’t know why Apple designers doesn’t read your valuable posts.
        Why don’t you start your own consultancy service so technology companies can benefit from your insightful thinking.

        1. Why don’t I start my own consultancy? Much more comfortable giving Public Service Announcements and countering the echo chamber.
          But your suggestion is appreciated and filed. ;-P

      2. Let’s face it, people who don’t like Apple, its products, or its users are going to complain about the iPhone 7 EVEN if it still had the ancient analog headphone jack. If it wasn’t about the headphone jack, it would be about something else irrelevant.

        The reality is that there are hundreds of millions of people who are either NOT upset about the removal of the headphone jack, or who (like me) are actually happy that Apple has finally removed that old (more than 130 years old) technology and replaced it with something MUCH BETTER.

        Apple will likely sell hundreds of millions of iPhone 7 units in the coming year, and it is currently on track to be the best selling iPhone in Apple’s history… Despite the ridiculous negative comments we’ve been reading about the removal of the headphone jack (which is the way all smartphones will be in the future).

        If you don’t want to buy the iPhone 7… Don’t! Just complaining about it is futile. Complaining doesn’t make your life any happier, and it CERTAINLY doesn’t dissuade the millions of others who ARE buying the iPhone 7.

        So you have a choice of either saving your indignation and mental health, or living in anguish over something that is totally inconsequential to others.

        1. There’s no anguish, why would you think that?

          The only issue I have with your premise (and it’s a big one) is that it’s exclusionary. You have no reason to even be impacted by the jack’s presence.

          Of course, you can toe the company line and say thinness, and I can even respect that, if there were a thick model with everything.

          The whole thing with Apple always reeks of manipulation.

          1. “Of course, you can toe the company line and say thinness”

            You are hallucinating!

            Neither the company (Apple Inc.) nor I have said that Apple removed the old analog headphone jack for “thinness”!!!

            In fact, if you take a few moments to read my comment (which you apparently DIDN’T DO), I gave a specific reason (obsoleteness) and also the benefits gained (how the extra space was used).

            You may have the misguided belief that the limited audio quality from using a wired analog audio headset is EQUAL to the high quality of audio that you get with wired digital audio headphones… But you would be very wrong!

          2. What you cannot successfully argue is that all the advantages you claim are already possible since the first lightning connector. Let’s call the jack legacy, I personally think it’s better for the consumer to have more options, not less.

            If lightning is what it’s cracked up to be, the there will no longer be new headphones without it, in short order. No need to “force the future”, more like manipulation to me.

          3. “If lightning is what it’s cracked up to be, the there will no longer be new headphones without it, in short order.”

            That statement makes absolutely no logical sense at all!

            Using that “logic”… If electric cars are what they are cracked up to be, then there will no longer be gasoline powered cars, in short order.

            You see, in this world (a.k.a. “reality”) more than just a SINGLE type of technology can coexist with others. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          4. You have a huge logical inconsistency with your car analogy. The current devices can do both, the new can do only one.

          5. “The current devices can do both, the new can do only one.”

            What “current devices” are you referring to???

            Do you mean that you can use one of the old analog headphones with the iPhone 7 using the included digital-to-analog adaptor?

            That would be correct. But why would anyone continue to use an analog headphone when BETTER audio quality options can be used?

            It is just as possible to continue using an obsolete 3.5 inch floppy disk with your modern computer, but why would anyone choose to do that purposely when MUCH BETTER options can be used?

          6. All headphones deliver an analog signal to your ears. A digital wired headphone is only digital until it needs to power the speakers.

          7. “Let’s call the jack legacy…”

            Nah. Let’s call it obsolete. Count how many premium phones go jackless in the next 2 years.

            (Remember floppies, CDs, Adobe Flash and Blackberry keyboards? Where are they now? Apple’s got a record here, that is sometimes forgotten.)

          8. The quality is determined by the DAC (a chip in this case) that converts the digital signal to analog. Your ears are analog after all. Whether a jack is used has no effect on quality.

          9. “Whether a [analog] jack is used has no effect on quality.”

            You REALLY need to educate yourself about analog vs. digital audio transmission… ESPECIALLY the limitations of using the 3.5mm analog headphone jack!!!

          10. No, he’s right. The 3.5mm analog jack is fully capable of transmitting the highest quality audio available to day and probably the foreseeable future. It is only limited by the source/dsp/dac/amp before it and the speakers/drivers after it. The last chain between amp and speakers/headphones is and will always be analog. That’s audio. Nothing Apple introduced changed the way audio technology works.

            That is, until either your brain or your ears can directly decode 1’s and 0’s or someone comes up with digital electricity.

            Joe

            [Now, if you are arguing that Apple didn’t use the best dsp/dac/amp available inside the iPhone, that’s a valid point, although it was still quite respectable.]

          11. “The 3.5mm analog jack is fully capable of transmitting the highest
            quality audio available to day and probably the foreseeable future. ”

            This is completely true, but there’s some extra complications that you’re leaving out.

            1. With the audio jack, you’re limited to whatever DAC is built into the phone. With a lightning headphone, you can have a better DAC than comes with the phone. The headphone DAC can incorporate extra features like noise cancellation. It can also be just plain better at audio fidelity than the built in iphone DAC… although the latter probably won’t make a lot of difference unless you’re paying for some really awesome headphone speakers.

            2. The headphone jack carries just enough power to drive the speakers. Lightning can carry extra power, so extra features can be provided without needing to have batteries in the headphones to power them.

            3. if the cable from the headphone jack is poorly insulated or worn, you can get hiss or static in the audio, because it’s analogue. With lightning headphones, low level interference in the wires can be addressed by error correction, so the sound stays pure.

          12. I didn’t leave those out because that is not the question. I never said lightning isn’t capable of more. Both usergnome and I have pointed out that quality is it is limited to the DAC, correcting the notion that the connection type is the limiting factor.

            2. is a non-issue as far as I’m concerned and has nothing to do with the quality of the connection type, again.

            3. Is just categorically incorrect. Hiss and static are introduced in the preamp stages, not post amp. The only thing that could happen in the post amp phase is some sort of ground loop or faulty ground issue. But that would be because of all the electronics before it, not the headphone line itself. Or a huge transformer. That is why most speaker cables are NOT shielded and are only insulated to avoid shorts.

            The reason noise does not enter into the equation between amp and speaker in a typical set-up is because the noise, even if it existed, would not be amplified. That’s why the preamp stages are so shielded, insulated, and need to be properly grounded. Any noise in the preamp stages IS amplified. That’s what makes it audible.

            Joe

          13. For your benefit, I’ll explain how this works. Here are the limiting factors on quality:
            1. The original compression. These are AAC files – a lossy compressor. The higher the bitrate of the file, the less compressed it is. The’ why you’d choose a 256 Mbps file over one at 128Mbps. There is a compressor called Apple Lossless but I don’t know if that works on the phone.
            2. The quality of the DAC (Digital Audio Converter) that is going to convert the digital signal to an analog signal that speakers can reproduce and that your ears can hear. DAC chips used in phones are really cheap. That Lightning to 3.5m adapter must have one inside it (because the lightning port only puts out digital). There are more expensive DACs available (some WAY more expensive) They can be of greater bit depth (24, 32, 48) than the standard 16bits which is used for CD’s. and they can go up to 96khz sample rate. So if you have Apple lossless files on your phone and you use an external, high quality DAC and you have wired professional headphones, I suppose you could hear better quality. I don’t even know if the phone supports lossless.
            3. The quality of the drivers (speakers) reproducing the analog signal. Very few headphones have really good drivers.Certainly not pods.
            4. Wired or wireless. Wireless EarPods (including AirPods) and headphones use the Bluetooth wireless spec to transmit a radio signal between the phone and the speakers. This involves decompressing the original compression and recompressing the signal into whatever flavor of compression is being used by bluetooth. At the other end (in the headset or pod) a DAC translates to analog audio for the speakers. AirPods use bluetooth, but presumably that W1 chip does some magic to make it better than unApple bluetooth. Wired is always going to be better.

            So it’s really all about wired vs. wireless and cheap DAC vs Expensive DAC. And the quality of the drivers.

            Of course without a 3.5mm jack it’s easier to be waterproof ๐Ÿ™‚

          14. “The whole thing with Apple always reeks of manipulation.”

            More manipulation than Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Facebook, Amazon.

            (Amazon gets a gold star for pricing changes on products throughout the day and even giving various customers different prices simultaneously based on their historic buying behaviors.)

    2. “Was anyone complaining about the quality / convenience of the current jack + BT audio setup ? Which problem does this solve except shaving 0.5mm (if that) off iPhones ?”

      Except getting rid of the headphone jack didn’t make the iPhone thinner. iPhones have actually been getting thicker recently:

      iPhone 6 thickness: 6.9 mm (138.1 x 67 x 6.9 mm)
      iPhone 6 Plus thickness: 7.1 mm (158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm)
      iPhone 6S thickness: 7.1 mm (138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm)
      iPhone 6S Plus thickness: 7.3 mm (158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm)
      iPhone 7 thickness: 7.1 mm (138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm)
      iPhone 7 Plus thickness: 7.3 mm (158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3 mm)
      iPhone SE thickness: 7.6 mm (123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm)

      The removal of the jack didn’t change the thickness of the new iPhone at all.

      1. “The removal of the jack didn’t change the thickness of the new iPhone at all.”

        Duh!!!

        That was NOT the reason why the obsolete analog headphone jack was removed.

        Just like the floppy disk and SCSI connectors, the analog phono jack (a technology that is over 130 years old! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phone_connector_(audio)) is going the way of the dinosaurs (finally!).

        And Apple isn’t the only company that knows this. Motorola’s Moto X phone also gave up the analog headphone jack, and it was reported this week that Samsung’s future Galaxy phones WON’T have an analog headphone jack either.

        Eventually, ALL new smartphones will come WITHOUT an analog headphone jack.

        “Which problem does this solve except shaving 0.5mm (if that) off iPhones ?”

        A LOT MORE than 0.5mm!!!

        The analog headphone jack is not just a “hole”. The actual device takes up a fair amount of space in ALL smartphones.

        Removing the ancient analog headphone jack in the iPhone 7 freed up space for a larger battery, a larger second speaker for stereo, and additional sensors.

        1. Agreed. It is quite strange that some commenters here seem to believe the iPhone 7 got thinner and the removal of the jack was to make the device thinner. iPhones have actually gotten slightly thicker in recent history.

          1. Hmm, but iPhones have gotten slightly thicker, not thinner. The only argument you can make is that Apple used the constraint of staying at the same thickness of the 6S, but the 6S was thicker than 6 before it. The thin narrative just doesn’t work. Again I invite you to learn about how the internals were changed.

          2. I repeat, iPhones have gotten thicker in recent history. You can look this up if you like, it’s the truth. There’s a balance with devices that have larger screens. Make it thicker and you increase the volume and make it less easy to hold and less pocketable. The iPhone SE, which has a smaller screen, is actually 0.5 mm thicker than the iPhone 7. This narrative that Apple is obsessed with thinner and thinner devices doesn’t hold up. It seems Apple wanted to get to what they consider the right balance of thickness and volume, and it would appear we’ve reached that. The removal of the headphone jack was not driven by how thick or thin the device could be. Again, you could learn this if you were interested.

    3. “Have you ever actually used a wirelessly charging device ?”

      Today’s “wireless charging” isn’t really wireless at all. It just charges without “plugging” a wire into the device, but the wireless chargers DO have wires that you need to plug into AC at one end, and then at the other end it has a metal piece that must make physical contact with the internal charger in the device (not really that much different than plugging in a wire).

      In the future, devices will have real “wireless charging” (referred to as “charging at a distance”). You can use your device in any room that has a wireless charger, and without needing to attach your device to anything, it will charge wirelessly.

      Wireless charging at a distance has been in development for the past few years. The technology makes it possible for a device to move freely around a room, in a pocket or purse, while constantly charging.

      1. I want full testing of ‘charging at a distance’ for radiation and health effects first before I put a whole-house system in. Or before the government allows public places to install it and shower all of us with the warm glow of free while-you-roam charging.

      2. Distance wireless charging would certainly be even better, especially if it doesn’t even require line of sight and will charge the stuff in my bags and pockets.

        Contact wireless charging is already vastly more convenient that wired charging.

      3. In the new 2017 Chevy Volt, there is a vertical pocket that fits a phone and wirelessly charges it. Works with Galaxy phones or an iPhone with the Mophie wireless charging case. So no wires at all.

    4. Actually I have used Nokia and Samsung’s wireless stands and mats for years. As a matter of fact I have a lovely Fatboy pillow in red right next to me

        1. No, I don’t. It’s a “gee whiz” feature that feels forced, confusing on a consumer level — and that’s speaking as someone who likes being on the bleeding edge somewhat. I would much rather Apple concentrated on battery life (reducing the need for charging in the first place) or other internals than a feature that does not have very strong market penetration anyway.

          1. Agreed, battery trumps wireless charging. I don’t miss it nearly as much now that my phone lasts over 2 days. And fast charge too, it charges in 3 hrs but gets a day of charge in less than 1hr.

            My brother got a Galaxy S7 though, and for some reason isn’t getting more battery out of it than his previous iPhone (5S I think). He’s bad at regularly charging too. So he loves the wireless chargers at home and work, usable while dealing with kids ^^

            Edit: I found the pen and muti-windows on my 2011 Galaxy Note more gee-whizish: works OK, looks cool, but isn’t of much use (splitting a miserly 10″ screen, using a pen for input or handling…).

        2. The place where I really would love to have it in an integrated way is my car dashboard where yr phone could sit charge and provide u with maps as I never use the ones that came with the car

  2. Regarding wireless charging…
    “So, while it might look nicer, it does not actually change your behavior unless I am missing something.”

    I’ve been charging wirelessly for over three years. It has changed my behavior significantly. I have several wireless charging stations scattered throughout my house, office, and even my car. If my phone isn’t in my pocket, it’s charging. It’s very rare that I’m under 70%.

    Thank you for using the word “brave” in the title and not “courage”, I was beginning to feel that I was surrounded by the “cowardly lion” these past several days.

    They designed (apparently) some nice earbuds. So what? This couldn’t be done at any other time? Bose must be a hero then. More importantly, do they work with other companies devices?

    1. Can you tell me more as to how wireless charging has changed your behavior I am genuine interested as I have charging mats around the house too but the way I use my phones I charge through them has not changed

      1. When I would charge over wire, it was “recharge time”, now it’s either
        a) always recharge time
        b) never recharge time since I’m always charged
        All depends on how you look at it… ๐Ÿ™‚
        I don’t even think of charging anymore, that’s the behavioral change. I just put my phone down.

        1. Ok but that changes your charging habits nothing to do with the relationship with other devices and or apps/services. In theory you could do the same if you had charges in all rooms unless you are saying that u r using the device while it is charging on the mat

          1. I am. Most of my chargers are cradle style..
            Not only that, placing the phone down is much simpler than plugging in.

          2. I don’t actually see a much difference between a dockstation for a phone and a charging mat. Sliding the phone into the dockstation does not require any more fiddling with cables than the mat and it’s very easy to accomplish.

            The big breakthrough with wireless charging will come when I can use my phone naturally in my hand on the sofa and the charging is handled over greater distance.

          3. Curious as to what frequency of radiation they are using. It would need to not be absorbable (or be quickly dissipated into safe energies) by biological molecules, and would need to be reasonably intense if it is to recharge in any reasonable amount of time.

            The reason our WiFi signal doesn’t cook us is because it’s very low intensity. It’s a law of nature, when it comes to energy you always pay more than what you get.

            Edit: Thanks for the link, it’s interesting.

  3. If they really want this wireless future to take root, they are going to need to license out the W1. There are a lot of people for whom that Ear/Airpod design won’t physically work in their ears. So Apple’s Airpods are immediately a non-starter before even talking about who actually _wants_ wireless, no matter how “considerate” Apple may be or how “ready” people are.

    Joe

      1. Right. I think that is what will make using wireless more compelling for non-wireless users. So, they will either need to make many styles (not Apple-like) or license the W1, which is where the “magic” lies. I mean, unless Apple’s only point was bluetooth wireless. But I don’t think anyone believes that.

        Joe

        1. Three models of Beats were also introduced with the W1 chip (BeatsX ($150), Solo3 Wireless ($300), Powerbeats3 Wireless ($200). I’m sure you must know this, but your original comment makes it sound like Airpods are the only option right now with the W1 chip.

          1. There are a lot of people who do not like the audio delivered by Beats. You would know that if you had an inkling of what you were talking about. But I expect nothing more from you, so there you go. Argue with someone who thinks you have something to add.

            Joe

          2. I’m not arguing with you, I’m simply providing you with information that is true, and it seems you weren’t aware of the W1 Beats products, so you’re welcome.

    1. Unfortunately you’re right about the Apple earphones. The only ones that fit my ears were their in ear ones from several years ago, that also had great sound. While the new style EarPods sound great great if I press them into my ears, they’re worse than useless for normal use, and fall out within minutes (or less), so no airpods for me. Never mind that you don’t seem to get volume, forward/back, or skip, as far as I can tell, and trying to use Siri for controlling these is insane generally (public transport?) unless you’re disabled. At least play/pause was included.
      I seriously doubt that W1 will be licensed as it appears to be a major trump (sorry) card for Rae of use with your Apple prouducts, besides, it also appears to be a function of the OSs, so supplying drivers for Android/Winblows sounds like a recipe for a giant bag of hurt.
      I understand that wires are inconvenient and irritating, but they don’t introduce delays between audio and video, so maybe they could have gone to the 2.5mm socket, with a simpler adapter and gained precious space that way (as if).
      Regarding your futile interaction with one of the regulars earlier, it’s like his (her?) handle was hijacked by one of the regular trolls. Those basement dwellers scare me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a collection of disturbing trophies on their walls.

  4. The only times I charge and listen at the same time are two very real situations where I need toโ€”1) on a late day plane flight when my iPhone is already low on charge and 2) using the iPhone in the car as GPS. That GPS sucks battery, no matter the model and I plug the audio into the cars’ aux input.

    The whole Siri problem still begs the question, is it merely convenience that keeps people from using Siri? Or is it that they just aren’t that interested after the novelty period wears off?

    Joe

  5. “Think about listening to music from your Watch while you run or getting directions while you walk through the city. After all, many wanted GPS so they could leave their phone at home, no?”

    Apple says if you leave your phone at home, you cannot have a conversation on your Watch.

  6. “A wireless charger still requires a wire into the wall. So, while it might look nicer, it does not actually change your behavior.”

    A WIRED charger requires that you connect it to the phone every time you need to charge the phone, but a wireless charger does not. That’s a welcome change in behavior.

      1. I still suggest you get educated. That is not a limitation intrinsic to the mini-jack, it is intrinsic to the dsp/dac/amp that Apple used. What these devices do and have done (even before the iP7) is bypass Apple’s DAC, amp. and probably the DSP, too. THAT is the limitation.

        And still no matter the Lightning headphones employed the last connection between amp and headphones is ANALOG! You don’t get away from that no matter the audio gear used. If analog could not pass on those benefits, there would be no reason to improve any digital audio beyond what an analog connection could handle.

        Really. Learn what you’re talking about. Seriously. You won’t look quite so ridiculous.

        Joe

        1. OK, so I tried to point you to pertinent information, and you still refuse to read it!

          So one last try. Here are a few salient quotes from that article:

          “I can at least assure you that Lightning headphones are a significant improvement on the status quo.”

          “These audiophile cans sound dramatically better when exploiting the all-digital connection”

          “These Lightning headphones are the real deal: good enough to make me forget all about the 3.5mm jack.”

          “As good as the iPhone’s integrated audio circuitry is โ€” and it is indeed among the best on the market โ€” it simply lacks the power to drive Audeze’s EL-8 to their full potential.”

          “A lot of power would be meaningless if it’s not delivered cleanly, and the Lightning-connected Cipher DAC augments the amplifier brilliantly here. Both sets of headphones sound vastly better when going through their own cable and audio processing. The clarity of voices is crystalline, the soundstage is much more expansive, and every instrument feels more natural and tangible.”

          “I love the granularity of Audeze’s EQ adjustments โ€” which span all audio sources, whether your sound is coming from Tidal, YouTube, or the default Music app โ€” as they can be made in 1dB increments across 10 frequencies. What’s more, the sound remains precise even when I imbalance it: because a bass or treble “boost” is actually generated by lowering the volume of other frequencies, I’m never adding distortions or imperfections to my music.”

          “Love it or loathe it, the trend in advanced personal tech is to become more digital and less analog. Wireless protocols and the above benefits of Lightning make the classic 3.5mm jack redundant. I can get more convenient audio if I drop the wires, or I can get better audio if I go digital via Lightning.”

          “If you want to buy the headphones of the future, don’t cling on to the connector of the past.”

          1. I have read it and nothing you quote counters what I have tried to teach you about audio technology. The only one here refusing education is you. Sorry to see that. Usually you are a fairly intelligent, articulate poster.

            Joe

  7. So I guess you’re just broken today. All I’ve presented to you are facts. Sorry you can’t see that. I guess Glaurung-Quena above is lying, too. When is the last time _you_ built an amp?

    Joe

    1. “All I’ve presented to you are facts.”

      Whatever…

      Apparently you live in an alternate reality where whatever you imagine, or whatever opinion you have, is called “facts”.

      1. I live in a reality that understands and KNOWS audio technology. I have to. It’s part of my business. And I am d..n good at what I do.

        You live in a reality that an opinion piece (a review) is somehow fact. Good luck with that.

        Joe

  8. I think one of the most interesting aspects of the airpods are accelerometers. I have undestod that that airpods can already detect when your jaw is moving. But if that’s correct, they should also be able to detect at some degree HOW your jaw is moving. So in principle you could be able to give voice commands, without speaking the actual words aloud. This could totally solve the problem where people do not use voice assistants publicly. The subtle jaw movements could be how we interact with Siri in the near future!

  9. Carolina,
    I think this was more of a revenue generating maneuver, on the backs of a dedicated consumer by leveraging the Apple brand. Removing a technology such as a headphone jack that has been around for over a century is baseless. Nothing they did to the device warranted this. What they did notice is their voice technology was falling further and further behind those of Amazon, Google, and Windows. By removing the headphone jack they made sure they eliminated ,or added an extra step, to force feed costs. @ no point does this new technology make sound quality better, Siri better, or running with wireless headphones. I live in the Android ecosystem and I know its fair to say my opinion is not swayed, but the supporting facts you make are as if this was paid by Apple themselves. The decision Apple has made is their choice to make, and ride the success or fails is that of capitalism, but its in an industry, technology, that should provide choice all the way down to the hardware. This change from a demographic perspective, has isolated the people who can afford (i checked cost for the airpods, its listed @ $159 US not $119) . So as much as I value the way you wrote your article, I have some strong disagreements with the venue (this is way to one sided to be on a general tech site) this like MacObserver type article. Again, nothing against all of your points, but like many articles that are posted on sites that should not have a single direction, people will read this and treat this as fact not opinion.

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