A Life Made Simple:
A Designer's Review of Apple AirPods
A month ago I created a list of my top ten dream items for the studio. One of the gadgets I was looking for was a simple Bluetooth headset. I wasn’t new to Bluetooth headsets myself owning both headsets and speakers in the past and they worked okay. They had issues connecting at times or it was a lengthy process if you wanted to pair it to a different device. I have known about the AirPods for a while, but not being a fan of Apple’s EarPods I wasn’t excited about an exact replica without the wires.
Anyone who is in the market for AirPods knows they are hard to come by. In New York City there is a six week wait to get them. Luckily one day I was on the app and noticed that the 5th Avenue Store actually received a few. I instantly purchased the AirPods and selected for an in-store pick-up. I remember that night I picked them up around 10, which wasn't a problem at the world’s only 24 hour Apple Store.
I was so curious that I actually opened them on a train and didn’t even wait to record it. The initial fit was completely new. I remember instantly smiling because they were comfortable and almost a completely new fit. Now typically setting up Bluetooth headsets can be several steps:
- Turn on the headset and hold the power until the light blinks indicating a sync in progress.
- Head to your Bluetooth menu on the device.
- Select the device to sync wait a few seconds and you are ready.
With the AirPods you simply open the case, your iPhone instantly recognizes it and a special menu shows up on your device. Press the picture of the AirPods and you are synced. It is by far the easiest way to sync to a device, and that’s thanks to Apple’s W1 chip. That chip also allows for seamless switches between devices which is an even longer process compared to traditional Bluetooth headsets.
Basically if I start playing sound out of my iPad Pro the AirPods recognize it and automatically sync with the iPad, and I could stop the sound from the iPad start playing a podcast on my iPhone and with only a second delay the AirPods connect back to my phone automatically. It is something I thought was a gimmick until I really started comparing the syncing process between those and a set of Beats Solo 2’s I own.
Now the main reason I wanted to try these was actually not to listen to music, but use them more as a standard office headset. I work from an in home studio and find that my phone is usually docked on my desk. That doesn’t always mean that I am always by my phone. Running your own business requires a lot of work with your phone. From clients calling to setting the mood with the right tune, the AirPods allow you the freedom to not be tethered to your phone.
Additional functions include in-ear detection, meaning if you pull one of the AirPods out of your ear the sounds will pause automatically. Find my AirPods was enacted in iOS 10 so if you misplace an AirPod it will help you find it. Finally double tap for Siri puts Apple’s Digital AI assistant right in your ear. It is even easier to enable Siri for directions, phone calls, and reminders. Finally the AirPods come in a really cool case that charges the AirPods when they are inside.
In terms of build quality , they are built with the same great quality Apple is known for. In comparison to standard EarPods the arm is a bit thicker to house the tech required to power the AirPods. The inline mic on the wired version is replaced by a beam-form microphone that is housed in the bottom of each AirPod. Sound quality is a little bit better than the EarPods, but not by much.
Are they the best headphones I have ever heard? No they aren’t, but they also do a lot that other headphones don’t do. They aren’t the best, but they are still better than most. One thing I do miss is the playback and volume controls on wired headphones. With Siri occupying double tap there is no functionality for playback. The only way to control the headphones without pulling out your phone is having an Apple Watch that is synced with the iPhone the AirPods are connected to. This seems like a big miss, but I could see Apple releasing a software update in the future that could add the functionality.
I must say that I really didn’t expect much from these headphones, and for a while I considered the Apple Watch the best device I had purchased for productivity, with about a month of testing, but the AirPods have become my absolute must have device. I keep one AirPod in all day so I can answer calls when I am away from my desk and I am able to access Siri to add notes and reminders on demand.
We really would love to give away a set of AirPods if we get our hands on another set stay connected to our Facebook Page: BACreative for announcements on that
About the Writer
Brian Anthony is the Creative Designer at Bigger Creative Agency. A comic book nerd who loves everything about design and technology. Born and raised in Brooklyn, like most New Yorkers, he isn't afraid to speak his mind. Brian is an outgoing designer who has had his work featured in USA Today, New York Fashion Week, and CES. He finds inspiration in everything and loves to throw on any tune and get to work.