I laughed at Apple’s wireless AirPods when they were first announced. I sat on Twitter and shared the same jokes as everyone else, and never dreamed they’d be in my ears. “They look stupid,” I thought, and everyone seemed to agree. It’s with much regret that I’m now using AirPods as my headphones every day, but I still think they look stupid. Others do, too, apparently, because people keep staring at me as if I’m from outer space.
I tried a pair during a recent work trip and I was surprised at how easy they linked to the iPhone despite the lack of wires. And the battery charging case is just clever. Untangling headphones is a headache, and feeding them through your jacket or having them tugged out of your ears can be frustrating. All of these first-world problems are solved with the AirPods, but at a weird expense. As this is new technology, most people haven’t seen a pair of AirPods where I live, let alone tried them. I receive puzzled looks on a daily basis, and I’m fairly sure most people think I’m wearing some wild earrings or making some kind of statement by cutting the wires of the iconic Apple EarPods.
Not a single person has asked me about the AirPods, presumably because they think I’m listening to music, but I’ve exchanged wry smirks with fellow commuters who know I look stupid. I probably feel how the first mobile phone users felt walking around with a cordless phone for the first time. It’s an unusual thing to see, and humans love staring at new or unusual things. I haven't seen anyone else using AirPods in London during my travels, but when I saw someone using them in Barcelona I totally understood why people stare: they look odd without wires.
One of the reasons I decided to purchase AirPods is simply because Apple’s latest headphones always seem to fit really comfortably in my ears. I struggle to find in-ear headphones that don’t rub and feel awkward, even with the myriad of attachments they usually ship with. I haven’t once worried about the AirPods falling out, even at the gym.
My AirPods experience hasn’t been faultless, though. I’ve had multiple issues with the audio cutting out or crackling during use. Occasionally I’ve taken calls using the AirPods and the music hasn’t resumed afterward, so I’ve hit play to have the music blasting out of my phone on a packed train. That’s not ideal, especially when everyone turns around and you’re wearing headphones that look like earrings and your phone is playing some hardcore house music.
Using the AirPods has made me at least understand why Apple decided to kill the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. These headphones need some changes, especially aesthetically, but they feel like the future. I even tried my old wired EarPods the other day, and it was a frustrating experience. I thought I’d worry about charging the AirPods, but they instantly start charging when placed in the case, and you get more than enough juice for a journey to work.
I’m confident that once these types of headphones come down in price that everyone will appreciate their convenience. They might not sound the best, but to many of us that aren’t audiophiles it simply doesn’t matter. And once a lot of people are using wireless earbuds the whole experience won’t seem so alien.