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I’m not used to people asking me about stuff I’m carrying around, but several of my coworkers have asked me about my AirPods when they’ve seen me wearing them around the office; apparently people are curious about them. So, a report:

They replaced my EarPods, which have been totally fine for me: I’m not particularly an audiophile. (And I’d historically mostly used them for podcast listening anyways, though that’s changed somewhat over the last few months.) So read everything here with the lens of “replacement for Apple’s free pack-in earphones” in mind.

And they’re quite good in that role. They’re the first set of wireless earphones that I’ve owned; and, it turns out, I prefer wireless earphones to wired ones. No more wires to untangle when I’m pulling them out, no more carefully coiling the wires when I put them away in a (futile) attempt to avoid tangling / fraying, no more having the cord occasionally being just a bit too short when I open my jacket, no more occasionally sending my phone or headphones flying when something hits against the cord.

Also, in terms of more subtle benefits of wireless headphones: since I started listening to music at work more, I’d been a little bothered by the fact that it means that my phone is on my desk, or maybe in my pocket, which makes it a bit too easy to check Twitter when I should be working. Whereas now I can move my phone to my backpack while still being able to listen to music.

When reading about Bluetooth earphones in the past, I’d heard that latency is a problem; it is not a problem for me at all with AirPods. I haven’t tried playing video games with timing-specific audio cues, so I can’t swear that there aren’t situations where latency is an issue, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s not worth worrying about at all.


So yeah, wireless earphones are good; on to more AirPod-specific stuff. I really like the way it pauses when you remove one of the earpods, I use that all the time. E.g. when I stop by Pamplemousse every morning on my way into work, I pull out one of them while waiting to order, and then put it back in when leaving the store; when the train approaches and it’s loud and I’m going to be reading a book soon anyways, I’ll pull out both of them; if I’m walking towards somebody in the hallway and don’t want to appear actively antisocial, I’ll pull out the AirPod on whichever side they’re approaching me from. The unpause functionality when putting it back in rarely works for me, but I don’t think that’s an issue with the AirPods: unpausing from anywhere other than the app that’s playing sound (from a wired earphone button, from the lock screen, from the control center) hasn’t worked for me most of the time for the last couply of iOS versions. (Not sure if that’s a general iOS bug or a Castro 1 bug or what.)

It’s a small thing, but, when doing the above, the AirPods fit nicely into the tiny pocket in my jeans. (The watch pocket inside the right pocket.) But, of course, when putting them away for longer periods, I put them in the case, and the case is great. I had a pouch for wired earbuds before that I really liked, but I didn’t have any way to replace it, so I’d honestly been a little worried about not knowing what I’d do if I lost it or if it fell apart. But the AirPods case is a very good size to fit into my pocket, which solves that problem. And the case’s battery means that I never have to worry about running out of power: as long as I recharge the case once out of every three or four days and as long as I don’t listen to music for five hours straight at a stretch, then I always have power, and neither of those scenarios is a problem at all. (I already had a lightning cable plugged into my work computer anyways, for the times when I needed to do mid-day phone recharges.)

I gather that most wireless earphones actually have a wire between the two ears; not having a wire helps in a few different ways. E.g. it makes the pause gesture a little easier; it makes it easier to temporarily put them away (or, for that matter, put them away long-term, not sure what the case would be like if it had a wire); it makes it possible to listen with one ear while having the other ear open for external noises. And I’ve never had a sync problem between the two ears.

When reading reviews, I’d somehow gotten the impression that the AirPods magically got audio from whichever Apple device was nearby and playing audio, but that’s not the case: you have to manually select them when changing devices. (Unless you have a Watch, but I don’t.) You can skip the Bluetooth registration step on the different devices, but, while that’s welcome, it’s also only a one-time savings per device. The only weird behavior I’ve had is that, on my home laptop, they don’t reliably show up on the Bluetooth menu; that seems like potentially a pretty major problem, but I feel like I might be hitting a corner case that doesn’t affect most people? (Maybe it has something to do with multiple people being logged into the laptop at the same time? Though, right now they are showing up, even though Miranda is logged in as well.) I hope Apple fixes it soon, at any rate, but fortunately there’s still a wired headphone port on their latest laptops…

I was expecting to miss having builtin volume buttons a little bit, but, in practice, that’s totally fine: I don’t change volume all that often, and I can change it by feel with the buttons on my phone while leaving my phone is in my pocket. I actually miss the hardware pause button more, because of the unpause bug mentioned above, but that’s not a big deal at all. (The tap-to-Siri functionality works, but I rarely use it.)

At first, the price seemed like it was more than I wanted to spend, though not out-of-line for even cheap wireless earphones. The thing is, though, the wires in my wired ones fray every four months or so anyways, so I was always replacing those. (Not an Apple thing, it happened no matter what brand of cheap earbuds I got.) So, as long as these last a year and a half, I’ll break even on price anyways. I was worried about losing them, but at this point I’m not particularly worried about that: they never fall out of my ear, and if I take them out temporarily, the small pocket is a natural place for them. I’m sure I’ll lose one eventually (though Apple is willing to sell individual replacements), or maybe I’ll accidentally put them through the washer or something, but right now, that scenario of them lasting over a year and a half seems entirely plausible.


I don’t want to oversell them: ultimately, they’re non-audiophile wireless earphones, so if you’re the sort of person who wasn’t using Apple’s default earphones before, you might not like these either. But, accepting that constraint (and accepting that you’re going to have to spend $160 for them and, as I write this, wait a month and a half for them to be shipped): they really are well done.

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