Wednesday, March 20, 2019

AirPods 2019

Apple (Hacker News, ArsTechnica):

The new Apple-designed H1 chip, developed specifically for headphones, delivers performance efficiencies, faster connect times, more talk time and the convenience of hands-free “Hey Siri.” AirPods come with either a standard charging case or a new Wireless Charging Case for convenient charging at home and on the go.

Hey Siri support is a big deal because, if you don’t have to dedicate one of the two tapping actions to Siri, you can use it for a forward or backward skip. I don’t think this is worth buying new AirPods for, and Qi charging seems much less useful here than for a phone, but I think many original AirPods owners are going to be forced to upgrade within the next few years simply because of the aging batteries. I haven’t yet had problems with listening, but recently I’ve been getting less than an hour of talk time. AirPower is still not available, so Apple hasn’t said whether the new case will work with it, though I would assume so.

Joe Rossignol:

The new AirPods are available to order on and in the Apple Store app starting today with a wired charging case for $159, the same price as the original AirPods, and with a wireless charging case for $199. Both options will be available at Apple Stores and select resellers starting next week.

The wireless charging case is also available individually for $79 for use with both the first-generation and second-generation AirPods. An LED light indicator located on the front of the case shows the charge status at a glance.

Ryan Jones:

BTW, very nice launch strategy for AirPods 2:

1) pods + wireless case
2) pods + normal case
3) just wireless case

Super flexible and conscientious of user needs. Could have easily been 1 only.

Tanner Bennett:

It is cheaper to buy brand new AirPods and the new case separately, then sell the old case, than it is to buy the new AirPods outright

Zac Cichy:

I just wanted a charging case that isn’t going to collect metal particles and stain the inside. Maybe next time!

Ish Abazz:

Is there any way to trade in or recycle old AirPods? I’m betting hundreds of thousands of them will be replaced soon.

Mark Gurman:

These AirPods were initially planned to go on sale last year. They’re also working on a future version with noise-cancellation and water resistance. Those were planned for later this year, but would now imagine that’s for 2020.

Update (2019-03-21): Lee Hinde:

FWIW, I’m upgrading solely to get the longer battery life. I’m in a remote-only company (lots of Slack calls) and sometimes meetings go past the current gen’s battery life.

Ryan Jones:

Wait a second, AirPods 1.5 could a path to volume control now.

Siri: Hey Siri
Play/Pause: Remove
Right Pod: Volume Up
Left Pod: Volume Down

Update (2019-03-22): Kirk McElhearn:

This is quite disappointing. I bought mine when they were released, in December 2016. I don’t use them a lot; I use them for phone calls (I work at home, and I prefer making phone calls with headphones), and to listen to music and podcasts when I walk. But that is, on average, less than one hour a day, and sometimes I don’t use them for several days.

Nevertheless, I find that they don’t connect to my iPhone reliably any more, and they don’t last as long as they used to.

Update (2019-03-26): Rene Ritchie:

Jony Ive talks #AirPods with GQ:

“When you are going to have objects that are inherently very mechanical, I think that it’s so important that you pay attention to all aspects of the design.”

Tim Hardwick:

Note that these commands won’t do anything if your iOS device doesn’t have a network connection. It’s an odd requirement, but unlike Voice Control, Siri needs an internet connection even for basic playback commands.

Update (2019-03-29): iFixit (Hacker News):

Our last AirPods teardown got pretty messy, so we’ve partnered with Creative Electron for some X-treme X-ray guidance. Check out the arrangement of magnets for the case’s Zippo-like flip top action, which looks like dark rectangles embedded in the plastic shell.


Flex cables, antennas, and microphones are all carefully folded together like origami and cemented in place with glue. We cut away as much of the outer casing as we dare, and painstakingly scoop out the rest with a fine dental pick.


Turning our attention to the brawn, we find the familiar 93 milliwatt hour battery in each bud.

Damien Petrilli:

Got new #AirPods (wo wireless charging).

The top case feels cheap. The opening mechanism is flimsy. Feels like a chinese knockoff.

Genius Bar: it’s normal on the new generation, your old ones have dirt making them less flimsy.

Nope Apple, previous was flawless from day 1.

Some of the staff were also puzzled by the case, until another genius came from the back and told them the “you got dirt making it stable in your old case” story.

Felt like Apple already got that kind of feedback and sent “instructions” to deal with it.

Also, Apple is obviously not tracking satisfaction with their products. When you bring something back, none of the reasons listed are about product issues.

It’s DOA, buyer remorse or product damage.

Good way to manipulate your metrics not to put “dissatisfied with the product”.

Nick Heer:

Nitpicky AirPods case complaint: now that the charging indicator light is on the outside, I wish Apple had used that microperforation technique to better blend the light with the case.

Update (2019-04-01): Brian Roemmele (via Bob Burrough):

In 2007, Steve Jobs worked very closely with Apple’s Industrial Design Team to produce the Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset. It cost $129 and featured automatic paring with the iPhone. It originally shipped with a travel cable and dual dock, both of which allowed it to be simultaneously charged along with your iPhone. By July, 2008 Apple stopped bundling the dual dock with the headset and dropped the price to $99 as manufacturing cost subsided.


Steve liked the product so much he used it past the point when Apple cancelled the product. However, it was clear the world was not ready for wireless headset in 2008 as the sound quality and range was less than acceptable.

Dan Seifert:

But even with the new chip and hands-free ability, there’s still a significant delay from when I say “Hey Siri” to receiving a response in my ear. Unlike the iPhone, there’s no bell or ding to indicate that the AirPods actually heard my command, and there’s obviously no visual indicator unless my phone is out and I’m looking at the screen. As a result, I often end up repeating myself because I don’t know if Siri heard my command and is just being slow to respond, or if my command wasn’t heard at all. It’s a frustrating experience

Update (2019-04-09): Rene Ritchie:

Where, previously, I could probably count to 4 or 5 when connecting or switching, now I can pretty much count to two. Where, previously, I’d sometimes have to tap or click two or three times to switch between my iPhone and Mac, now it almost always happens on the first tap or click.

John Siracusa says that the hinge on the charging case feels different.

7 Comments RSS · Twitter

Gruber writes
>Curious why it’s the H1 and not a new W-series chip. UPDATE: Apple Watch is still using W-series chips (W3 in Series 4 watches, W2 in Series 3). The H1 is a new chip series specifically for headphones. Makes sense.

The reason for the new chip series optimized for realtime, connection time, and battery life isn't for Headphones, it's for Headsets. They're shipping part of their AR solution today, to work out the kinks so that by the time they ship the H3 in their headset, it's a proven, capable interface. This will be critical as tethering to your iPhone for AR compute may be a key part of their success.

“It is cheaper to buy brand new AirPods and the new case separately, then sell the old case, than it is to buy the new AirPods outright.”

Huh? $150+80=$230>$200

Sell the old case? Why would anyone want a used AirPod case?

@Ben Apple was selling extra/replacement cases before, so presumably people were buying them. Perhaps you want them in multiple locations or, as Cichy notes, yours got all gunky inside? In any case, the point is that Apple was selling the old case for $69. So, in theory, you could pay $159 (AirPods + wired case) + $79 (wireless case) - $69 (sell new wired case) for $169, which is less than the $199 for buying the AirPods with the wireless case outright. Now, you’re probably not going to be able to sell it for $69, but the only competition is the $79 wireless case, and if you can get more than half that you come out ahead.

Thanks, I see now. That wasn't super clear in the original guy's comment.

Niall O'Mara

I held off getting the AirPods because of the cost plus the expected short lifespan which is now seemingly the case
(given lots of bloggers/podcasters' comments about battery degradation.

I wonder if the new AirPods will have a longer expected lifespan and if not if it will impact Apple's environmental status*?

[…] I guess this was a recent decision because AirPower is apparently mentioned in the packaging for the just-released 2019 AirPods. […]

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