How to fix the major AirPods flaw
[Pre-release design review]

The “AirGuard” for your AirPods | © Kristof Van Brussel

The brand new AirPods aren’t out yet but we all know what they’ll look like, so you may regard this as my Apple AirPod design “pre-review”.

It is always fun to hear Jony Ive — with his British accent — introduce new Apple products but with the latest earphone design, I really was underwhelmed! There’s a lot to do about the fact that the iPhone7 removed the headphone jack. I don’t really care about the fact that — when you prefer using corded headphones — you’ll have to tap into the Lightning connector… it is the wireless AirPods design that really annoys me.

At design school I was taught that as new technology comes along, it gives you opportunities to introduce a new and better form factor. Unfortunately that’s not what Sir Jonathan Ive did!

So I tried to reconstruct the design process of the Apple design team.

First there were wires: the classic EarPods design. Now the wireless AirPods havearrived. EarPods or AirPods, it is a small difference in sound but a huge difference in use!

It really looks as if the wireless redesign only involved cutting the wires and introducing small microphones at the ends. These ends were used to put the AirPods away in a white charger box that resembles a dental floss box. OK, the AirPods are packed with state-of-the-art wireless technology, chips and sensors but…

Bottomline: Jony Ive overlooked one major factor

Cables have always been the lifeline of the in-ear headphone design!

In the pre-wireless era, the cables — apart from transporting the sound signal — always have been the lifeline of the in-ear headphone design!

Judging on the first AirPods pictures, the in-ear form of the AirPods is not significantly different from the wired EarPods.

The in-ear form never was/is a perfect fit. To avoid your earphones from falling down in the old days, all you needed to do was: pull the wire. But now this life-saving wire is gone, so the chance of losing your wireless Apple earphones has increased!

The chance to loose those earphones has literally doubled.

Another notion is that Apple has unpaired the left from the right earphone. In other words: instead of one set of earphones you have 2 separate parts! Therefor the chance to loose those earphones has literally doubled!

Will Apple introduce a “Where are my AirPods-app”? I doubt it…

To solve the problem we (again) will be obliged to accessorise.

There’s a cheap alternative available at every optician: spectacle lanyards! You can easily apply these to the new AirPods to pair them up again and give them back their lifeline. Your AirPods lifeguard the AirGuard is born!

All this moved me to produce the crappiest home laptop video ever (worst sound and vision & method acting 😅 ) but I think it’s still a funny way to make my point.


© 2016 Kristof Van Brussel

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