Tuesday, October 29, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

AirPods Pro

Apple (Phil Schiller, Hacker News, MacRumors, 9to5Mac):

Apple today announced AirPods Pro, an exciting addition to the AirPods family that features Active Noise Cancellation and superior, immersive sound in an all-new lightweight, in-ear design.

[…]

Each earbud comes with three different sizes of soft, flexible silicone ear tips that conform to the contours of each individual ear, providing both a comfortable fit and a superior seal — a critical factor in delivering immersive sound. To further maximize comfort, AirPods Pro use an innovative vent system to equalize pressure, minimizing the discomfort common in other in-ear designs. AirPods Pro are sweat- and water-resistant, making them perfect for active lifestyles.

[…]

Transparency mode provides users with the option to simultaneously listen to music while still hearing the environment around them, whether that’s to hear traffic while out for a run or an important train announcement during the morning commute. Using the pressure-equalizing vent system and advanced software that leaves just the right amount of noise cancellation active, Transparency mode ensures that a user’s own voice sounds natural while audio continues to play perfectly.

This sounds great. I’ve added an AirPods Pro icon to ToothFairy 2.6.

Maximilian:

AirPods Pro have a triple tap and long press gestures!

Benjamin Mayo:

The change from a double-tap to a press is something that I hope trickles down to the normal AirPods. The double-tap gesture means pushing the buds down your ear canal, with a relatively strong intensity lets the AirPods not detect your intent. With the new force sensor in the stem, the idea is you can just pinch either side of the stalk, mimicking the press of inline buttons on old Apple wired headphones. As you press down evenly with a finger on both sides of the stalk, the AirPods Pro themselves should stay fixed in place and it won’t be anywhere near as uncomfortable as the tapping.

I wonder whether pressing/squeezing is going to feel slower than tapping.

Mike Rundle:

The killer feature of the AirPods Pro is the interchangeable silicone tips that click into place and don’t have to be mashed and misshapen to reattach like every other stupid pair of earbuds on the market.

John Gruber:

The “force sensor” seems like a cool feature too. Not sure how many times Apple has to learn this, but one button is better than zero buttons.

The Pro earbuds have stems that are quite a bit smaller than regular AirPods, but the Pro case is about 15 percent larger by volume.

Malcolm Owen:

The AirPods Pro are best described as shorter and squatter than the AirPods, having a shorter height of 1.22 inches against 1.59 but measuring wider and deeper at 0.86 by 0.94 inches against 0.65 by 0.71 inches. To external viewers, the main difference is the stem of the AirPods Pro is a fair bit shorter than for the AirPods, which is their biggest clue as to which version is being worn.

The short and squat changes also apply to the case, which measures 1.78 inches in height and with a width and depth of 2.39 inches and 0.85 inches respectively. The case for the AirPods is, again taller at 2.11 inches but not as wide at 1.74 inches, and with a comparable 0.84 inches in depth.

Dan Moren:

Apple claims that the AirPods Pro will feature the same five hours of listening as their predecessors, though if you turn on noise-cancelling, that will drop to four and a half hours. But using the charging case, Apple still says you can get 24 hours of listening time or 18 hours of talk time. Plus it seems the AirPods Pro will come with a Qi-enabled charging case by default.

Joe Rossignol:

The first AirPods Pro unboxing videos have surfaced on YouTube from tech reviewers Marques Brownlee, Justine Ezarik, and Safwan Ahmedmia.

The reviewers were all impressed with sound quality and active noise cancellation, with Brownlee saying noise cancellation on the AirPods Pro is roughly on par with the new Beats Solo Pro. As for fit, Ahmedmia found the AirPods Pro with in-ear tips to be more comfortable than the regular AirPods.

Joe Rossignol:

If you lose or damage the AirPods Pro, the left and right AirPod will cost $89 each to replace in the United States, totaling $178 for a pair. The wireless charging case is also $89 to replace if lost or damaged.

The fees are lower if a customer has purchased AppleCare+ for Headphones.

There are still complaints that AirPods batteries aren’t replaceable. But I don’t see how that could work, and most of the environmental impact is likely from the batteries themselves. Those would be discarded in any case, and they’re tiny compared with other batteries everyone uses.

whalesalad:

I really struggled to take the plunge on the original AirPods and it has been one of my top 10 purchases ever in my life without a doubt. I stood there holding the little $200 box in my hand and really danced back and forth in my mind about whether or not they would really be necessary. If they broke, I would go buy a new pair immediately.

gamblor956:

I’ve demoed my $25 Anker or mpow earbuds (the Airpod-likes) to many coworkers sporting Airpods and they’re universally astounded by the quality of the cheaper buds. I’ve converted quite a few people who lost their Airpods.

Mike Murphy:

Sony’s headphones will cost you $230, which is a lot for a pair of wireless earbuds, regardless of what they do. For comparison, Apple’s AirPods start at $159, around as much as other well-received competitors.

Juli Clover:

The Powerbeats Pro fit on the ears super securely, and it’s unlikely these are going to fall out of your ears during physical activity. Powerbeats Pro fit in the ear canal unlike the AirPods, and will drown out ambient noise, which is something to be aware of.

[…]

Powerbeats Pro have a carrying case, but it’s a lot bigger than the AirPods case. It’s not really pocketable, and it’s worth noting that wireless charging is not an included feature.

The Powerbeats Pro has been reduced from $250 to $200. Hopefully, AirPods Pro will be similarly water resistant.

John Gruber (tweet):

The AirPods Pro “overview” web page is a strange beast. It pegs my 2015 MacBook Pro’s CPU — even when I’m not scrolling. I closed the tab a few minutes ago and my fan is still running. The animation is very jerky and scrolling feels so slow. There’s so much scrolljacking that you have to scroll or page down several times just to go to the next section of the page. The animation is at least smooth on my iPad and iPhone, but even there, it feels like a thousand swipes to get to the bottom of the page. It’s a design that makes it feel like they don’t want you to keep reading.

The photos look fantastic, but the scrolljacking is really annoying. I think this started with the 2013 Mac Pro. Apparently, Reduce Motion helps.

Tushar Boralkar:

Have you noticed? They are both of Right Ear...!

Matthew Panzarino:

I do love a good exploded AirPod

Nick Heer (tweet):

By the time I got to the bottom on my non-Retina MacBook Air, it had loaded over 66 MB of assets and had chalked up over 1,600 HTTP requests — for one webpage.

Nick Heer:

The AirPods Pro webpage is so gigantic because those large trigged-on-scroll videos aren’t video files, but individual JPG frames.

Kaveh Vaghefi:

It’s like having to play a video manually by scrubbing through it. It’s awful. Just give me a play button or make it a simple page. I don’t want to manually scroll through a video.

Ryan Jones:

OMFG, the AirPods Pro website is maddening on iOS. Maddening.

Casey Tourangeau:

Flicking through the page in mobile causes multiple chunks of text to appear and disappear before they can be read; but because they aren’t visually tethered to a scroll action, you don’t know how far to go back to find what you missed, creating even more frustration.

Previously:

Update (2019-11-01): Kyle Howells:

I hope the AirPods Pro still have an option to tap instead of using the buttons. One of my favourite features is how I can control them through my helmet when snowboarding or biking, when I have no physical access to them. I just hit the side of my helmet and it triggers inside.

The option to tap is unfortunately gone, which is too bad because I often want to control my AirPods while wearing a hat or have dirty hands.

Max Seelemann:

First day with AirPods Pro... with a winter cap 🧢 ❄️ covering ears 👂 riding bike 🚲.

- can’t squeeze because covered and/or gloves
- no Siri because doesn’t hear you
- don’t hear cars (lol of course!)
- transparency mode makes ugly noises because covered

🤷🏼‍♂️

Ish Abazz:

I guess I’ll get used to it but I miss being able to tap on my AirPods. The squeeze, much like the new longer press that replaced Touch ID, takes too long for my liking.

John Gruber:

Noise cancellation worked really well for me. I own a pair of Bose over-the-ear noise canceling wireless headphones, but almost exclusively wear them only on airplanes and trains. Wearing noise-canceling earbuds on the subway and walking through the city is going to take some getting used to. It’s so good you really do lose sense of your surrounding aural environment.

[…]

The “Transparency” mode is interesting and a little mind-bending. It really does make it possible to conduct a conversation while still enjoying the benefits of noise cancellation.

[…]

The force sensor — the flat section on the earbuds stem that faces forward when in your ear — is effectively a button. But it’s not a button. It doesn’t actually move, and it doesn’t provide haptic feedback. But it acts like a button and — most importantly — sounds like a button. When you press it, the AirPod Pro plays a click.

Tim Cook, quoted by Chance Miller (tweet, Reddit):

We’re anxious to see the customers for the new AirPod Pro. But I would guess that one, particularly in the early going, will be people that have AirPods today and want to also have a pair for the times they need noise cancellation.

Frank Reiff:

After a day with my AirPods Pro I can say: they are awesome if/when you need noise canceling, but they are less comfortable and much fussier than the normal ones. If you can afford both, that’s a great compromise😉.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Joe Rossignol:

To help decide between the AirPods and AirPods Pro, read our side-by-side comparison of the earphones below.

Tim Hardwick:

This article explains how to control the noise cancellation feature on Apple’s AirPods Pro wireless earbuds.

Kieran Senior:

Pro tip for AirPods Pro. Instead of long squeezing then squeezing once to pause and enable transparency when someone talks to you, just create a shortcut named “be quiet”, so then “Hey Siri be quiet” will allow you to hear.

Jon Maddox:

How does this not take an eternity to execute in the context of someone standing right next to you demanding your immediate attention?

James Dempsey:

The noise cancelling is impressive.

[…]

I have a pair of Bose over-the-ear noise cancelling headphones that I primarily used on flights. They are very bulky and so I’ve fallen out of the habit of bringing them along.

I will definitely be bringing my AirPods Pro on flights.

Ryan Block:

AirPods Pro update: brought them to a relatively (but not ridiculously) noisy cafe, and compared them with my daily driver Bose QC 35 II (v4.5.2).

Thus far, the AirPods Pro are, for me, noticeably better at both noise cancelation and sound isolation. I’m pretty surprised!

Quinn Nelson:

AirPods are the most perfect mediocre headphones ever made.

Ryan Jones:

The original AirPods were out of stock for ONE AND A HALF YEARS.

Huge props to Apple for AirPods Pro being well stocked. A very big task that gets no glory.

Ryan Jones:

Apple put up all the AirPods Pro billboards without the AirPods, then added them.

Mike Wuerthele:

iFixit has completed its tear-down of the AirPods Pro, and have found that it is still essentially not user repairable at all.

Walt Mossberg:

Just got my AirPod Pros (I won’t use Apple’s odd pluralization) and I have a question. Is it only me, or is it waaay harder to quickly grip them and remove them from the charging case?

John Gruber:

Start it like this, with index finger behind them, and it’s even easier than old AirPods. From the the side though, it’s hard.

Jason Kottke:

I bought some AirPods several months ago thinking I was getting wireless headphones, but very quickly realized they were actually an augmented-reality wearable computer.

Ben Bajarin:

The more I play with AirPods Pro the more I am convinced Apple is moving toward computational audio experiences including better hearing.

Next up will be computational vision.

John Gruber:

This comment crystalized a thought that I couldn’t quite put my finger on while trying to describe transparency mode: it is audio AR. That’s it.

Update (2019-11-06): Holger Bartel (via Hacker News):

The point of sending 1578 requests with 65Mb down the wire being a lot of data still stands, but there’s much more to it.

Update (2019-11-09): Jason Snell:

I should say that as cool as Transparency is, it’s not a cure-all. For it to really be effective, you need to turn down your audio to a relatively low volume, or you’ll still miss everything. In fact, I found myself wishing for a way to make the Transparency shortcut also reduce my playback volume, since I inevitably found myself reducing volume every time I turned on Transparency, and increasing it when I turned noise cancellation back on. No such luck.

Transparency is made more useful because the in-ear design of the AirPods Pro means it’s a little bit more awkward to pop the earbuds in and out. As a result, I’ve found that I am much less likely to pull out an earbud when someone is approaching me while I’m walking my dog on a local path.

[…]

The AirPods Pro are perilously close to becoming the only headphones I use when I’m away from my desk.

2 Comments

was surprisingly hard to quickly locate any references that included the force sensor & gloves / cold weather etc. found it here. Thanks.

I feel like that’s going to be a bigger deal, that few are addressing, with the temperature dropping in the US. I will miss the accelerometer-based taps myself.

@Ben Bajarin is really packing in the hyperbole. Man, marketing consultants do love some Apple mumbo jumbo. There are many excellent earbuds on the market, this is not new. "Computational audio experiences", I'll have to remember that one.

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