AirPods – A Quick Review

I have had the AirPods for a few weeks, and I love them. AirPods are simply the best product that Apple has released in years.

Using them has that wonderful magic that was the hallmark of Apple in the iPod and early iPhone era. They are beautiful, tiny and, super comfortable. EarPods always fitted my ears fairly well, but the lightness of the AirPods, and the lack of a cord, mean the AirPods fit and feel better. You can genuinely forget you have them in your ears. I’ve tried to get them to fall out, jumping around, running, and playing with the dogs, without success. Once in my ears, they are staying there until  you pull them out.

Pairing is perfect, you just flick open the case and your phone instantly recognises them, and the pairing syncs across all of your devices in minutes. Once they are paired, popping them in your ears is all you need to do to connect them. It’s awesome. The range is also ridiculous, and far beyond anything I have been able to manage with previous Bluetooth headphones I have used. The connection is fairly solid. I have had a few random disconnections that required a restart of the iPhone to rectify though, so you occasionally get reminded that this is still Bluetooth.

Sound quality is good enough, and quite a bit better than the EarPods, with better bass and clearer mids. They aren’t for dedicated music listening, but while commuting, exercising, or for background music while you work, they are fine. The microphones are great, even when using a single AirPod to make calls.

Having Siri in your ear is transformational. I started using Siri a lot more when I started wearing the Apple Watch every day, and the AirPods make it even easier to interact with Siri. There are some downsides. Activating Siri with a double tap is clunky and I would prefer it if the AirPods supported ‘Hey Siri’. Siri also isn’t the best as at voice only interaction. Some queries would benefit greatly from Siri reading the response rather than referring you to the screen that is in your pocket, or another room.

AirPods are great, if you want portable earphones and are in the Apple ecosystem, you shouldn’t consider anything else. 

The Echo and Google Home are a Dead End

There has been a lot of hype around ‘home hub’ devices such at the Amazon Echo and the Google Home in 2016. At first glance these devices make perfect sense, a simple speaker that allows you to access intelligent assistants from wherever you happen to be around your home. Just speak a command and stuff happens. However, they are a technology dead end. They only make sense now, in the brief period before wearable computing takes over the world.

Even now, as soon as you have an Apple Watch or the AirPods, and get used to having Siri right there on your wrist, or in your ear, the little box stuck in a room in your home becomes irrelevant. The people clamouring for Apple to enter this market are wrong, Apple is already past the ‘box at home’ phase and onto stage two. The AirPods are a future that makes far more sense that a limited box in the home. Having worn the AirPods for a few weeks now, I can see a very near future, where everyone just has a set of AirPod like devices in their ears permanently, giving them instant access to whichever AI assistant they are used to using.

These hubs are a stepping stone on this road, but they have already been superseded.