10 reasons Apple's AirPods are product of the year
THE dual-lens camera in the iPhone 7 Plus is a game changer and the MacBook Pro touch bar is cool, but Apple's best product of the year is the Apple AirPods. We're calling it.
The AirPods, after much delay, finally went on sale last week and the lucky few who got in first will get their AirPods in time for Christmas. Everyone else will have to wait, with the limited stock meaning that if you order them today you will be welcoming them as a gift in the new year.
But we've been wearing them for months, every since the Apple event in September where they were announced as the pay off to mute criticisms when Apple also announced they were ditching the headphone jack in the iPhone 7.
And we're in love. Like, really in love. It's gadget lust and it grows stronger every day.
How could these be product of the year? It's simple. They've changed the way I use headphones.
The annoying thing about the AirPods is the biggest criticism comes from people who have never tried them. Sure, they look funny but if you're going to say "they fall out of people's ears" you should probably put them in your ears first.
They won't stay in your ear for a 10km run, say people on Twitter, who have not tried to wear them for a 10km run and, possibly, couldn't run 10km regardless of whether they have these in their ears or not.
So, how have they changed my life? I no longer wrestle with cord tangles and I no longer worry about constantly charging my wireless headphones - because they're always charging (see number one below). They are the most convenient headphones I've ever had. I now have a drawer full of wired and wireless headphones that are all good in their own way but can't match the convenience of the AirPods.
Not everyone is going to like them. But I love them. And here are 10 reasons why.
1. They charge in my pocket. Let me say that again. When I'm not wearing them, they charge in my pocket. While I'm just sitting at my desk, or walking around or chilling on the couch watching Netflix.
Yes, other headphones have a similar feature, including the Jaybird Freedom and the Jabra Elite Sport but neither are quite as convenient (and, yes, I have worn both).
The Jaybird still have the hassle of a wire connecting the two earbuds and the Jabra are bulky in comparison.
2. They have about five hours of battery life. No, that's not enough to get you through the day but fifteen minutes of popping them in the little carry case that looks like a dental floss box and they have three hours of charge.
A fully charged carrying case has an extra 24 hours of battery life. Walking around San Francisco for a day, when the AirPods hit that five hour mark and warned me they would soon run out of power, I put one AirPod in the case for 10 minutes to give it a boost, while continuing to listen to my Napoleonic war novel on Audible through one AirPod.
When one AirPod was recharged, I put the other one in and did the same. In more than two months of wearing them, I've never gone to put them in and found they need recharging - because they're always recharging.
3. Yep, you can run 10km in them. Yep, you can run a half marathon in them. Yep, you can run even further wearing them. After a nervous first run where I thought sweat might cause them to slide out of my ear, I learned to trust they stay in my ear.
During training for the Melbourne Marathon in October, I ran more than 50km a week wearing the AirPods with my longest run being about 35km - or three and a half hours. They're comfortable, there are no wires bumping around the back of your head and they stayed in place because there is no cord pulling on them.
On a typical Sunday morning in Brisbane summer I run 20km and could represent Australia if sweating becomes an Olympic sport - and the AirPods never budge.
4. Siri is, in my view, a pain in the bum to control them. But the good news is I gave Siri the flick. After the first time of walking through the streets and feeling stupid saying "Siri, volume up", I decided that was too slow and too socially awkward.
I wear an Apple Watch and using the digital crown on my watch to control the volume. I can also use the app on my watch (which opens in one tap of the Watch button) to control pause and play but found it is just as easier to tap either AirPod twice to do so.
To use double tap to activate pause and play rather than Siri, go to your Bluetooth settings and hit the "i" next to the AirPod in the menu list to get to settings.
5. When I'm cycling, I just wear one AirPod. I can hear my Napoleonic war novels (nope, I never listen to music and, yep, I always listen to Napoleonic war novels) and still hear traffic noise. And a double tap on the AirPod answers a call.
6. Yep, they're little and you could lose them. Yep, the charging case is little and you could lose it too. But I haven't.
My one tip with wearing AirPods is when you take them out of your ears, you should put them in the case. One, you'll know where they are and, two, that will recharge them.
Saying "don't buy the AirPods because you will lose them" is like saying "don't buy a car because you can lose your car keys".
Yes, I have several times said to my wife "honey, do you know where my AirPods are?" but a statistical analysis has revealed that it was not significantly more than the number of times I've said "honey, do you know where my car keys/wallet/watch/glasses/underpants are?".
7. Because I run and cycle quite a bit, I have had countless phone calls with a frustrated wife saying "no, I can't hear you with that wind background" when other wireless headphones weren't up to the job.
But not with the AirPods. You can call me a stickhead for wearing them and you can hate them for whatever reasons - but nobody can criticise the voice quality of phone calls with the AirPods. They're the best, in that area, that I've tried. And I've tried just about every wireless sports earphone on the market.
8. It is rather obvious, but let's state it anyway. They have no cords. Nothing to get tangled. Nothing to bounce around your face as you exercise.
Earphone cords have a magical ability to always get tangled in the worst possible way within seconds. You turn your back on them and the next thing you know you've got a 1970s origami design taunting you.
Apple isn't right about needing courage to ditch the headphone jack - but it is right about the need to ditch the earphone cord.
9. Pairing is simple. Like really simple. You lift the lid on the AirPod case and a large screen pops up on your phone to ask you to connect. Tap it and you're done.
No more fiddling around in Bluetooth pairing menus. Also, if you want to know how much charge you have on your AirPods or the case, just life the lid and a large but simple screen pops up on your phone to tell you.
10. I don't care what you say - the look cool. And, there's a hidden message in every one.