Friday, May 4, 2018

AirPods Switching Limitations

Ryan Jones:

Wasn’t the W1 in AirPods supposed to, and did initially ship with, automatic pairing switching between Mac and iOS?

Ryan Jones:

Consensus is saying W1 AirPods shipped with

1) shared pairing between iCloud devices

2) auto switching between iOS devices

No documented auto switching Mac to iOS.

Consensus was wrong. Auto switching is not between iOS devices, it’s between Watch and iPhone. That’s it.

For the record, the AirPods intro video deviously leads you to thinking they switch, without saying it.


Agree. Whatever it shipped with, right now Mac vs iOS switching doesn’t work automatically.

Ryan Jones:

Bingo. W1...meh for Bluetooth pairing. Actually, worse since they can only pair to 1 device at a time.

Also, press did get a version that auto switched between Mac and iOS...for a few weeks. It never shipped.

I continue to like my AirPods, but it is disappointing that the switching is more limited than we initially thought it would be.

Previously: Tooth Fairy.

Update (2018-05-04): See also: Dan Masters and Evgeny Cherpak.

Tom Hagopian:

Well they just remember which device used them last, right? What’s really annoying to me is 1) using them with iPad; 2) leaving the iPad at home and just bringing my Watch+iPhone; 3) AirPods don’t auto-connect to the “only device” present. (Quotes bc Watch+iPhone auto-switch.)

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Weird I thought this is always how they always were supported to work. The way that is described sounds so much better.

I had forgotten about the seamless device changing that was implied/promised when AirPods were first announced. I do wonder if it might cause some added issues though such as getting a notification on your mac so your AirPods pair and stop the podcast you were listening to. The watch and phone is much easier to manage as they share the same notifications...still.

Wes Campaigne

My primary annoyance is that the default pairing doesn't revert to my phone after a period of inactivity. This scenario plays out fairly often:

- I use my AirPods with my iMac at home in the evening.
[10 hours later]
- The next morning, as I'm about to walk out the door, I put in my AirPods to listen to some podcasts from my phone on my walk to work.
- The AirPods automatically wake up and reconnect to my sleeping iMac, instead of just connecting to the phone that's actively in use in my hand.
- Curse, tell my iPhone to connect to the AirPods, and maybe put my iMac back to sleep.

I've gradually become conditioned to always switch my AirPods back to my phone after I finish using them with any other device, and it's silly.

So what is the benefit of the W1 chip exactly? Big question, since the pairing isn't much different with regular Bluetooth and this additional chip, is it the connection itself that is more robust than a generic Bluetooth connection?

The other big thing I keep reading about is when the battery is low, you can charge them in a proprietary case.... I've seen other buds like this on the market and have always avoided them, precisely to avoid proprietary charging. I'd rather have a portable battery with USB and then I can charge any of my devices. I remain perplexed with this device is better than something like the Bragi bugs, but it's nice to have competition, especially since the prices were dragged down because of it.

Correction, so sorry:
"I remain perplexed 'why' this device is better than something like the Bragi 'buds'....'

Geeze. It's going to be one of those days. Besides ridiculous typos, I already dumped Chinese food on my carpet, just to screw with myself I guess. Keep me on my toes. Sigh....

@Nathan even without auto-switching, the W1 still makes the overall experience a little smoother than typical bluetooth headphones/speakers. (I'm a BeatsX user, but I assume all the below applies equally to AirPods since they both use the W1.)
* Switching is fairly easy because when the earbuds are on, they show up as an audio output on Apple devices even when they're not connected. So if I'm using my earbuds with my Mac, they still show up in the sound output menu on my iPhone.
* Switching devices happens reliably, and without needing to disconnect the earbuds from one device before connecting to a different one. Some bluetooth speakers I use have trouble here, constantly reconnecting to the device I just disconnected them from, or getting stuck in some indeterminate state (is it connecting? is it in pairing mode? who knows?)
* My earbuds remember their connection with lots of devices, so it's not a problem to pair them with my phone, laptop, my girlfriend's phone, etc. Some bluetooth speakers will only pair with 1 or 2 devices at a time.
* As you mentioned, the connectivity is great.

All that said, there's much room for improvement. I wish my headphones connected faster when turning them on or switching devices. I wish iOS 11 didn't make you navigate a couple layers of UI to get to the sound output menu. And iOS really should make it easier to connect to generic Bluetooth audio devices. Constantly navigating to Bluetooth settings is a pain.

So it's finessing the multipoint technology already found in the Bluetooth standard? That's cool, wish it was just an open spec that anyone could implement, like Multipoint, but baby steps, baby steps....:)

[…] heard about it last year. If you’ve used AirPods with a Mac, you know that they don’t auto-switch the way you might expect. ToothFairy fixes that, as much as third-party utility can, by letting you […]

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