The Role and Vision of Apple’s Airpods
At Apple’s September Keynote, we saw Apple’s continuation of their strategy of incrementally improving their products and the user experiences they provide. It was most apparent in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, where the CPU, GPU, and battery life were all improved. Less obvious, is how Apple’s controversial decision to cut the headphone jack and replace it with the earpods connecting to the lightning port, and the wireless airpods. In fact, this decision is an important step in Apple’s long-term strategy. By making the earphones wireless, Apple is allowing for seamless integration between all of its devices without having to switch the plug from the computer to the phone and vice versa, as well as the watch… which doesn’t have a headphone jack to begin with.
Apple is positioning the airpods to be able to take on more of the functions of the iPhone. Once the Apple Watch has a cellular connection built in, we can easily see a future where people feel comfortable leaving behind their iPhones when they leave their homes. A crucial element to this happening is the improvement of AI. When you are using technology that is continuously operating, whether you are at work, at home, in the pool, or anywhere in between, it becomes more important than ever that that the friction points are removed in order to make the experience as seamless and smooth as possible. It is precisely for this reason that Apple is at an advantage in wearable computing, and yes, I consider the airpods as an integral component, not an accessory, to wearable computing. Perhaps Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have more advanced AI technology. If Apple can bring their expertise in design into designing a beautiful user experience with Siri, then other companies will find it extremely difficult to compete with Apple.
Granted, this is a big “if”, there is no guarantee that Apple will be able to bring their competency in designing computing products into creating an artificial intelligence, who can be the voice of Apple and also be able to adapt to a huge range of mindsets.