Podscasting – How Apple’s Airpods surprised me much more than I expected
(Note: I‘m German, born and living in Berlin, running a German blog for 15 years now. I’m starting to write more English posts here to practice my skills, feel free to correct my spelling or grammar in the comments if you care. Thanks!)
I‘m sure someone else has already written about this, but I can’t be bothered to google it.
(The moment you start googling if someone else already did something you‘re about to do, you’ll regret it. Because yes, someone else already did. Always. But it doesn’t matter, so just don’t google it.)
Airpods, those wireless headphones by Apple that look as if you carry two electric toothbrush tops in your ears, are amongst the best newish products I had the chance to use in a pretty long time. Because I used to hate wearing headphones, but now I don’t anymore.
The team laughs about me, but there were bigger style crimes than Airpods
Sure, Airpods look a little weird when worn in public. The team at the office laughs about me when I wear them.
But I grew up with New Wave music and fashion in the early 90s and I’m still glad that digital photography wasn’t around back then, because there were bigger style crimes than Airpods that luckily remain largely undocumented in my case. So I’m used to being laughed at. And I know that most seemingly weird clothing or accessory items are just a matter of getting used to them (with the exception of moon boots).
Also, with Airpods, Apple again is simply mastering the art of creating iconic products that are distinguishable from other manufacturers’ goods, even though they’re almost invisible.
For a long time, white headphones were clearly Apple headphones because all others were dark with a black cable. And now that the cables are gone, look at someone wearing in-ear headphones from 15 meters afar: Can you name the product or the manufacturer? You can’t. Unless it’s Airpods. Then they’re Apple headphones. So everyone wearing Airpods is simply a walking ad for them, while everyone else is wearing any other kind of in-ear headphones.
(The same iconic design theory is at work with the iPhone X and its „notch“, btw. Now that every smartphone basically looks the same, they’re indistinguishable. Unless you look at an X‘s screen. You can read more about that theory here.)
To cut it short: Once you tossed any fashion reluctance aside, Airpods are the shit.
No cables, no pushing, no knots
First, of course, because there are no cables wrapping around your neck, getting tangled up in the buttons of your jacket or inventing brand new un-untieable knots that made any sailor proud once you try to stow them away in your pockets or try to get them out again.
Second, you don’t have to push Airpods into your ears as you have with those rubbery tips on other in-ear headphones. Those always made me feel like abusing myself and my fear of having to have those headphones surgically removed from my ears because I’ve pushed too far was always part of the songs I listened to.
I also don’t like wearing over ear headphones. They’re okay and necessary if you’re a DJ (which, accidentally, I am from time to time), but in public, they shield me away too much. Most people, specially young people, like the „noise cancellation“ feature of headphones that not only cover your ears but also serve to make you not hear anything that’s going on around you anymore. But I don’t. I like to hear the engine of the car shortly before it runs me over. If it’s an electric car, that’s bad luck, of course.
And third: These things (we’re still talking about Apple‘s Airpods, at least I am) sound and work very, very well. Which is a good thing for a technical product.
The battery life of the charging case should bring you through a day (I haven’t spent a whole day wearing Airpods yet, I put them in for an hour or two, then put them back in the case, then put them on again …), the case charges with the same cable as your iPhone or iPad and after having paired them with your iDevices and/or your MacBook for the first time (a process that is straightforward, fast, easy and fun), switching from one device to another happens almost automatically. I was listening to music on my MacBook when the phone rang, so I took the call, tapped the Airpods as the sound source on my iPhone and the music on my MacBook went into pause mode immediately. Pretty cool.
Speaking (haha) of phone calls: No bluetooth headphone I used so far (and it’s been quite a few) sounded as good as Airpods. Nobody I spoke to on the phone (I do this with just one earpiece) complained about the quality of the call or any interruptions, and when I specifically asked people about the call quality, everyone with no exception said it sounded perfect.
Just enough noise cancellation
And because you just don’t feel Airpods when you wear them because they are so light and non-invasive, it’s fun to use them. They shield you off well enough for working in the office, but they won’t completely seal your ears. Some people might want to be isolated much better, maybe, but for me, the outside noise reduction of Airpods is just right.
The one thing I can’t tell you much about is how Airpods behave when doing sports. I did a bit of running to see if they fall out, which they don’t, but I don’t know what happens when you sky dive or play ice hockey with Airpods. I guess for everyday exercise and the gym they should work great.
Oh, the sound. Yes, the sound. It was probably the one thing that surprised me the most when I started using Airpods without expecting too much. Most in-ear headphones lack bass, in my opinion, so I keep pushing them further into my ears, which helps the sound a bit but hurts my ears. And most over-ear headphones tend to have a little too much bass unless you spend more then 300 bucks. Airpods deliver a great sound with enough bass for my taste, the songs I know and like sound like I remember them, they don’t lack anything. There’s enough clarity and transparency in the highs, great middles and again: enough bass to feel it. Of course, these tiny white speakers won’t make you sell your home stereo system if you have a decent one. But they really sound much better than any other smaller bluetooth headset I tried and I‘d even say they sound much better than the cable headphones that come with your iPhone.
So yes, I‘m a happy convert. I never used to wear headphones in the office though I wanted to for better focusing. I always found headphones too clumsy, too heavy, too isolating, not isolating enough or just not comfortable to wear. Airpods changed all that. They’re incredibly light, comfortable and good sounding headphones with no cables. I fell in love with them much more than I thought I would and after a long time I had that WOW! moment with an Apple product again.
There’s two concerns with the device I have, though. One is that you easily forget you’re wearing them. I almost fell asleep wearing them once after listening to a podcast one evening. I had switched off the iPhone, put it aside , turned off the lights and forgot about the Airpods in my ears.
Second, Airpods are still a novelty, so depending on your age and where you commute, they could be an easy target for thieves. Then again: So is any slippery 500 Euros smartphone in your hand, so it’s probably just a matter of staying as street smart as you already are.
Apart from all this, I can strongly recommend the little wonders. You’ll enjoy wearing them much more than brushing your teeth.