At less than $200 apiece, Apple’s Wireless AirPods come at a price that is competitive indeed and perhaps might be the only good thing about them.
The tech’s biggest giant Apple has finally revealed its premium set of entirely wireless earphones: the AirPods. The rumour mills had been in overdrive since the past nine months that the mighty Apple were well on their way to introducing their first ever truly wireless headphones. Apple’s Wireless AirPods allow you to listen to music, wirelessly control Siri, or interact with your iPhone with no cables attached, and are reported to cost $159 when they get available for sale in the market. At first the price appears to be rather intimidating and has left the consumers bemused by the tech giant’s groundbreaking product. But in contrast to the already available wireless earbuds manufactured by literally unknown emerging entities, the price does turn out to be exceptionally reasonable. However, everything other than the price, including the entire appearance of the gizmo, the attitude and belief that all the consumers think and respond in the same way, the absence of key features – all these aspects have rendered AirPods appear as a battle against the odds for Apple.
The wireless headphones arena is certainly a new one, but my Word! It is unbelievably congested with plenty of players out there vying to capture the top spot. Ranging from enterprises with huge brand names such as Samsung and Jabra to aspiring startups including Bragi and Earin – the market is crowded with companies endeavoring to sell their own editions of truly wireless headphones.
AIRPODS SEEM TO FALL IN THE MID RANGE CATEGORY
Apple had an enviable opportunity to make a name for itself or at least threaten those who are ahead of the pack. We know quite a few people who were waiting for Apple to unveil their version of wireless earbuds before looking to buy something else. As a matter of fact, we would even go so far as to count ourselves in that bunch of people. We’ve certainly tried out a few wireless headphones, though we haven’t actually spent any bucks to get a pair of our own since we wanted to have a look at what Samsung and Apple were going to offer – and primarily because the wireless earphones by other manufacturers are far too costly. Most of them begin from $150 and can go as high as $300. With this perspective, we believe that Apple has made a commendable decision to tap a newer market.
Having said that, Apple did go for earphones with perplexing design features. Firstly, features such as device pairing and voice assistant compatibility, have been developed particularly for Apple devices. Thankfully though, music streaming is not device specific. It’s similar to the device specific fitness tracking features of Samsung’s IconX earphones, for which the primary function of audio streaming is compatible with any device that makes use of Bluetooth wireless technology. The quick device pairing feature is Apple’s one of most critical pillars of their marketing strategy on AirPods, which sounds quite absurd, because connecting wireless earbuds to a Bluetooth enabled device is one of the more assuring features about wireless headphones. The most taxing attribute, however, can be the fact that it becomes really hard for an attenuated Bluetooth signal from a tiny set of radio to make its way through a human body (and we are not sure if Apple has been able to find a solution to this problem).
APPLE SEEMS TO HAVE RESOLVED THE LEAST TROUBLESOME ISSUE ABOUT BLUETOOTH CONNECTIVITY
If you think that Apple was even thinking of developing truly wireless earphones with compatibility options for all other devices out there, then you might be disappointed big time. But we expected Apple to try out a number of new things with the first generation AirPods. And it’s rather heartrending that Apple decided not to venture a long way into innovating the wireless headphones domain. Perhaps Apple could have integrated some primary fitness tracking features in the earbuds and linked them to Apple Health. It could have even built them to be more independent of the smartphone (similar to Bragi’s Dash earphones), or even incorporated a more earbud-specific version of Siri.
But the more serious lacunas comprise the lack of more standard features common to most of the wireless earphones in the market such as touch controls or buttons. (Apple, however, claim that a user can play, pause or even skip soundtracks by tapping the earbuds, thus switching on the built-in accelerometers.) The absence of noise cancellation or audio passthrough features in Apple’s Wireless AirPods have also found them wanting as compared to the earphones produced by Dash or Here One.
To rub more salt in the wounds, the design is absolutely terrible. Apple has, quite astonishingly, gone in with the same old design of EarPods which failed to get a lot of acclaim from the end-users because of their inability to stay in ears. AirPods have effectively the same design except for the attached cables. Even if the earbuds did stay in ears, most of the earphones do not fit properly in a wide range of ears and that is exactly why most of the companies also include disparate fins or tips to allow the earphones fit properly in ear shapes and sizes of a number types. The earphones that we’ve been testing are not easy to get lost as their original packaging includes good quality carrying cases and one can utilize the different fins to make them fit easily in ears. As far as AirPods are concerned, only one of those things is true.
Apple generally adopts a conservative attitude and bides its time before jumping onto the bandwagon of newer technologies. And it will be quite ruthless to blame them for such a cautious mentality. Apple usually has the knack of entering into the market a bit late in the day, promising features to the consumers that they tend
to expect and still possesses the unique ability to win the competition because of the unbridled charisma and majesty of its brand. Apple has not been able to dislodge its competitors from the pinnacle for sure, and working on the earbuds for a long period of time notwithstanding, it appears that the tech giants have been a bit too hasty in releasing the AirPods. The market competitors are cognizant of the thrill and threat that Apple has brought into the market for the stakeholders. Here, Bragi and Jabra, all issued statements this week taking a jibe at the Apple’s latest product. Before we are able to give the upshot, we’ll have to wait and spend plenty of time toying with the AirPods. But with whatever has been unveiled to us lately, we have our own doubts with only a sliver of hope.