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Apple Delays AirPods Wireless Headphones (bloomberg.com)
63 points by dcgoss on Oct 26, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments



I remember a comic strip with two highways: one pointing to road deprecated and other sign says "not ready yet"


Kind of only tangentially related, but I see this sort of thing all the time.

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Have you worked at Google? There's a very popular internal comic much like that...


I have tested at least a dozen Bluetooth-headphones for sports (running, gym, etc.) and they all died due to sweat after max. 2 months. Anyone has a good suggestion? (was really looking forward to buying the AirPods even though not sure about sweat-resistance...)


I have a set of Jaybird X2s that have lasted a while, purchased on recommendation from http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-wireless-exercise-head... -- they are currently recommending JLab Epic2 Bluetooths, with notes on sweat testing.


Just get a clip-on BT receiver and use cheap wired headphones. I sweat a LOT and many options e.g. Apple earpods stay in my ear and have not died due to sweat yet after years of workouts (they die for other reasons like me stepping on them).


Any recommendations for which receivers to look at? My search-fu has failed me repeatedly.


Griffin recently released a new Bluetooth adapter called the Griffin iTrip Clip. Initial reviews for it are positive.


I've had a Sony SBH20 for maybe 2 years which has yet to fail me in sweaty usage at least 3 to 5 times a week. Cheap as chips as well.


I was satisfied by the MPOW Swift. I'm a very sweaty guy, and they lasted about eight months of exercise 4-5 days/week before I broke the cheap plastic case. They looked kinda derpy, but they were fine for throwaway $20 exercise earphones.

The MPOW Wolverine I bought afterwards to replace them, however, broke after two weeks, so proceed with caution with this company.


I have a pair of the MPOW Magneto's (https://www.amazon.com/Mpow-Bluetooth-Headphones-Cancelling-...). I found them while looking for an alternative to the JayBird BlueBuds my girlfriend has (which are like $120). The Magneto's have a 6-8 hour battery life (and standby time is days). Bluetooth 4.1. Apt-X codec for higher quality audio. Active noise cancellation. Nifty magnet feature which allows you to pick up calls and ware it around your neck without loosing it. If you're looking for a feature rich pair of Bluetooth headphones that have a decent battery life you honestly can't beat MPOW for the price.


Can you list which ones didn't work out so that the rest of us can avoid those?


I have the Jaybird Freedom, they're still alive, but I can't recommend them - the pogo-pin charging mechanism is fragile. At this point it takes me a good dozen tries of plugging it in for it to actually charge.

I really, really want wireless earbuds to be a thing, but every choice I've tried is just so damn crappy.

I really do hope that Apple can pull this off, because the field of wireless earbuds is begging for some disruption.


I'm using the Trekz Aftershokz Titanium and they seem to be holding up: https://www.amazon.com/Aftershokz-AS600SG-Titanium-Conductio...

Bonus points with allowing you to hear while you run so it's less likely you'll be hit by a car.


I've been using these $25 TaoTronics headphones for months without any issues (combination of cardio and weightlifting, copious sweating involved).

https://www.amazon.com/TaoTronics-Bluetooth-Headphones-Earph...


I have these - not bad if you're mostly sitting but if you walk around with them, they move around in your ear resulting in booming noises.


Agreed, I've burned through 4 pairs of Jaybird X2's (easily the worst headphones I have ever used) from what I believe to be damage caused by sweat (despite being "sweat proof"). Fortunately, their CS has replaced them each time, but frustrating never the less. I too was hoping the Airpods would be a solution.


I have gone through several Bluetooth headsets including Jaybirds, which lasted weeks at best. right now, I am using the Plantronics BackBeat Fit Bluetooth Headphones and love them. You don't sound as great as my old Motorola us, but they have lasted over a year so far of exercising and no problems whatsoever.


I use Plantronics Backbeat Fit and have been very happy with them.

https://www.amazon.com/Plantronics-BackBeat-Fit-Bluetooth-He...


I had the same thing happen with 2 pair of wired sony headphones with the around the ear holder. In both times just one channel fried though :(

Have you used any non-bluetooth headphones that lasted?


My Plantronics Backbeat Pros (they're no longer for sale, the new version is called the Backbeat Fit) have lasted 3 years of travel and exercise.


JVC HA-EBT5 are IPX4 and under $50 on amazon.


Botox injections?


What are the odds they just cancel the product? I haven't seen much excitement for them (since they're pricey and can be so easily lost), and if they're having trouble making them, I could see them just cancelling them and going back to the drawing board.


Pricey? They are by far the least expensive wireless 2-ear headphones you can buy outside of some no-name alibaba ones with 1-2 hour battery life. On top of the price, you're getting almost 2x the battery life of the Samsungs, seamless multi-device paring, beam-forming microphones aided by motion sensors to only turn on when your jaw is moving, etc etc...

I think you may have a bit of an echo chamber problem if you don't think anyone is waiting for these...


The jaybird X2's run half that price now.


And have a wire between the ears...


I'd guess very very low, but I'm not sure. I think they are barging ahead with a wireless future, evidenced by the lack of headphone port on iPhone7 and iPhone7+. If they drop the AirPods that were supposed to make the iPhone 7 such a pleasure to use, they're abandoning a major selling point from their most recent keynote.


3D Touch does not seem to be gaining much traction.


I don't know what that has to do with wireless, but I'm new to iPhone, so I might be missing something.

Regardless, I think a lot of people love 3D touch, and it shows in /r/iPhone. The problem (especially because I'm new to iPhone) is that it is very hard to predict what it will do and which apps have made use and where. That will take time to stabilize (as right-click has) and become the norm, I suspect.


I'm looking forward to them. They're on-par price-wise with similar products and I don't think they'll be that easily lost as I'm likely to keep the case with me.


On the contrary, at least on the Twitter echo chamber I watch, these are much-anticipated. I'd wager they'll be in short supply for a while.


I personally like the idea, if not the implementation. I'd buy a pair tomorrow if they were made by someone like Etymotic, but I've always found the comfort level of Apple earphones to be something akin to trying to wedge a spoon in my ear, with related levels of acoustic isolation.


I don't think they can. They can't exactly leave iPhone7 users without a way to listen to music.


How's that? The iPhone 7 includes Lightning EarPods, Lightning-3.5mm adapter, and works with any other Bluetooth earphones.


I'd say minimal for the fact that the new iPhones don't have a headphone socket alone.


.


All iPhone 7 units ship with earphones and an adapter.



You can't ship them if you keep losing them ....


Is this why Dr. Dre stopped tweeting at the end of April?


Would this be a manufacturing or software issue?


The Beats sport earbuds that use the same chipset went on sale today - so presumably it's a hardware issue.


The PowerBeats have the same W1 chip, but they don't have the same motion sensors, beam forming mice, IR sensors, and other hardware and software that goes in to making the EarPods. There's a lot of software involved in tweaking all of that stuff that goes way beyond the W1 chip.


It doesn't sound like they're giving any clues.


Bluetooth headphones are a solution in search of a problem.


I disagree. Having wireless headphones is a lot more convenient and wired headphones for some use cases, such as exercising, where the cord tends to get tangled up with either you or the exercise equipment you're using. More generally, not having to plug things in is obviously more convenient than having to plug them in, all other things being equal.

The problem is that the user experience of Bluetooth is absolutely terrible. Every BT device I've used is plagued by frequent disconnects, and it's somewhere between hard and impossible to use a single BT device with multiple other devices (e.g. headphones with both phone and laptop). I own and regularly use a number of BT devices, but I use them because the benefits of being wireless outweigh the considerable frustration of using Bluetooth.


I disagree. I work in a lab (biology), and I listen to podcasts, books, and music for a large part of most days. I currently use wired headphones, but the cord tugs at them all day. In addition, wires get caught. Just today, I was stooping down to put something on the bottom shelf of a freezer, and when I started to stand up, the cord caught on my knee and yanked the headphone right off my ear. This kind of thing happens to me daily.

If there were a good, long-lasting (battery-wise), decent sounding pair of headphones, I'd gladly jump on board.


Run the cable down the back of your shirt, secured at the collar with a bobby pin.


I have to take them on and off a lot for various meetings and encounters. There is probably some solution, but wireless is likely to be the most simple, in my opinion.


Well.. why are you using headphones connected some place not on your body?

The dichotomy isn't "wireless" or "long cable to some stationary box", it's "wireless" or "in-ear to music player in your pocket".


Why would you assume I was attached to a stationary box? The headphones go to my phone in my pocket, but there's still extra cord that doesn't stay in my pocket if I put it there.


And almost immediately found: sometimes wires are annoying. It's not hard to think of scenarios where it's nice to have a wireless connection to your mobile device.

For me, it's simply easier to wear them while on a motorcycle, since otherwise I have to thread the wire under my clothes, which can be a real mess in the winter layers. It's positively infuriating to have a wire get caught and tug an earbud while fully suited up with a helmet on while on a highway in the winter.


There are reports that the market for wired vs wireless shifted in favour of wireless back in June 2016 [1]. Perhaps Apple looked at the market, saw the direction it was going in, and chose to focus on the majority, encouraging growth in that direction.

[1] https://9to5mac.com/2016/07/28/npd-wireless-headphones-sales...


I disagree. I box for sport, and I prefer to listen to my own music when hitting the heavy bag. Wraparound bluetooth headphones are the way to go because I can leave my device in my duffel bag several feet away.


Jack coming back in 3, 2, 1...


Can someone explain what this means for their share price?


I think there are two key things here:

1. It's a new product, so sales/revenue/profit figures should effectively be relatively unchanged.

2. It's a new product that they announced with a bit of a fanfare, and has attracted a fair amount of attention, so there's some reputational damage from not delivering on the expectations they set. The damage may be nothing more than a short-term dip of share-price if they soon deliver on their promise, but the damage may be a little bit deeper and more extended if they don't deliver soon. It's still a niche product though, so I wouldn't expect any significant shift in share price.

For the issue around AirPods alone, I would expect a dip: perhaps an extremely slight short-term dip, but potentially a longer-term dip if it went uncorrected. That said, Apple have another announcement scheduled tomorrow, so the impact of AirPods on the share-price could quickly be completely immaterial.


Sure: Mainly it means that Apple is struggling with their supply chain, which for a hardware manufacturer isn't great. But since this is a brand new product it doesn't impact current revenues, but it does impact outlook.


> Sure: Mainly it means that Apple is struggling with their supply chain

They haven't clarified if it's a software or hardware issue yet, so we can't say that for sure.


On a higher level, software is part of the supply chain. The only difference is that the vendor is a internal business unit.


Well then I guess hamburger is vegan because it's made of cows which are made of grass.


No, consciousness is crucial. It's like, as the German media theorist Kittler says, "there is no software". From a certain perspective. A perspective that ignores conscious experience.

(I realize that you were joking)


Hopefully the delay is a chance for the product designers to go back to the drawing board.

I simply cannot fathom why anyone would want to own a pair.


You don't see any merit to beam-forming microphones for noise cancellation, seamless paring experience, Siri access, other-earphone awareness, or lack of tangled wires?

You don't remember how iconic the white earbuds have been as a status symbol?

It's fine, and even expected, to say, "This product doesn't fit my use-case." But to be unable to fathom why any person on the earth would want to buy the product... that takes a total disconnection from headphones as a category of device, and I'm not willing to believe that's true.


> You don't see any merit to beam-forming microphones for noise cancellation, seamless paring experience, Siri access, other-earphone awareness, or lack of tangled wires

I honestly cannot. They're impressive solutions to problems Apple have created for themselves.

Personally, I don't use the built-in microphones in headphones. If I'm speaking to someone, I either hold the phone to my ear, or use speaker phone.

Taking two seconds to plug my wired headphones into my device is a pretty "seamless pairing experience", and I can use them with whatever device I please, unlike the AirPods.

My wired headphones don't need to be "aware" of each other, because they are connected to each other.

I spend about ten seconds each day ensuring my headphone cable isn't tangled.

> You don't remember how iconic the white earbuds have been as a status symbol?

Where I'm from, white earbuds have only ever been: a) an invitation to thieves looking to steal the device they're connected to; b) a sign that someone doesn't care about audio quality.

> [...] that takes a total disconnection from headphones as a category of device, and I'm not willing to believe that's true.

On the contrary, I think the problem is that I would actually consider a headphone purchase, rather than blindly buying something like the AirPods.


Apple created noise and wires? Impressive.


There's no need to be obtuse.

The advanced noise cancelling, pairing, and synchronization tech are solutions to problems that don't exist (or are less pronounced, in the foremost case) with wired headphones.


Creating to solutions to nonexistent problems is a cornerstone of the electronics industry. Nobody ever needed an iPod. Apple didn't become the most valuable brand in history by selling people things they needed.

β€œIt's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.” β€” Steve Jobs


How is noise related to wireless? I was not aware that wired headphones enjoyed any advantage there, and I can't see how they would.

The others are certainly wireless problems, but some people prefer wireless for a variety of reasons. Lots of manufacturers sell wireless headphones. To say that Apple created those problems makes no sense.


I'm no sound engineer, but intuitively the design of the AirPods slightly exacerbates noise cancellation issues by:

a) Placing the microphone further from a person's mouth, or at least, removing the option for people to hold a wired microphone close to their mouth;

b) Significantly reducing the distance between microphone and speaker.


I never see people wearing headsets that place the microphone near the mouth outside of specialized settings, nor do I see people holding the microphone to their mouth. I suspect they generally want to keep their hands free.

I don't think the distance between the speaker and microphone matters. Canceling out the noise you're emitting isn't hard with modern signal processing.


Your lack of desire for a feature is not the same as a feature having no appeal to anyone.


My biggest complaints is that they are in-ear. I really wonder how they will stay in place outside of a desk chair or a couch. At least with a cable you had a chance to catch it when it fell. An ear-clip version would be great.


Then perhaps you should read any of the many reviews by people who have had preproduction units... They pretty strongly lean towards them being comfortable and hard to dislodge - to a surprising extent. Tests in reviews I've seen have included running, dancing, headbanging, and jumping up and down intentionally trying to dislodge them.

Seems that the fact there's no cord to pull on them, and all of the mass is inside your ear makes them pretty stable.


I didn't see preprod reviews. I'll dig for it.


I'm sympathetic to that concern, but I've heard reporters say they don't really fall out without the cord tugging at them.


9 times out of 10, "I can't fathom why anyone would want product X" can be swapped with "I don't want product X."

It's often used due to mental laziness or lack of empathy. I personally don't want a pair either, but I can certainly imagine why it appeals to people.


It's not for lack of effort.

I've racked my brains and I simply cannot understand why anyone would prefer these to existing wired or wireless headphones.


  "I simply cannot understand why anyone would prefer these to existing wireless headphones."
One example: people with a major investment in the Apple eco-system. Pair it once with your iPhone, and it's also paired with your laptop, with your iPad, with your iPod, etc.

I've had plenty of frustrations trying to get bluetooth headsets to pair with a single device, let alone multiple devices, so anything that makes that easier is valuable to me.

How valuable is another question: another $10, another $50, another $100? That's pricing for the market to decide. I can recognise the technical improvement, which just leaves the question of the monetary value of that improvement.


Would you mind elaborating the flaws you see in them? Curious to see other point of views.

Personally, I am more of an in-ear earphones user, so I am more drawn to e.g. Bragi earphones, but even then I am missing the option of custom in-ear moulds, so I am sticking with shure audio drivers + Westone bluetooth cable. I do welcome Apple entrance because I could see how they might be able to push development of the sector and some advances.


I also prefer in-ear headphones when out and about, so would compare the AirPods to something like the Klipsch S4i [1]

Compared to the Klipsch earphones, the AirPods:

1) Are more than twice as expensive ($159 vs. $69)

2) Have significantly worse sound quality

3) Look ugly as sin; wired earphones like the Klipsch ones look just fine, and come in colors other than white

4) Require regular charging (only 5 hours of listening time); wired earphones require no charging at all

5) Are considerably easier to lose or misplace (either one or both)

6) Will have a finite life, as the battery wears out; standard wired earphones will last forever if you look after them

7) Are only compatible with current generation Apple devices; standard wired earphones have universal compatibility

8) Will likely be depreciated within a couple of generations of Apple products; wired earphones will endure

[1] https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00264GYMG/


Compared to landline telephones, cell phones:

1) Are more than twice as expensive

2) Have significantly worse sound quality

3) Look ugly as sin; wired telephones look just fine

4) Require regular charging; wired telephones require no charging at all

5) Are considerably easier to lose or misplace

6) Will have a finite life, as the battery wears out; standard wired telephones will last forever if you look after them

7) Are only compatible with current generation cellular networks; standard wired telephones have universal compatibility

8) Will likely be depreciated within a couple of generations; wired telephones will endure


The sound quality of the EarPods, which presumably the AirPods are based on, is good but definitely a very subjective thing. I've found them to be excellent for the price/form factor. Things I like:

- Great, deep bass response (when you position them to create a good seal between your ears and the outside world).

- Reasonably detailed mids.

- Somewhat diminished but still relatively detailed highs.

- Comfortable for wearing for long periods of time.

- Isolation isn't too strong, even with a good seal (helpful for maintaining situational awareness).

My only complaint is that between different pairs, the ability to get a comfortable seal can be inconsistent. However, I wouldn't consider them high end, and while their lack of noise isolation can be a downside at times, given the cost and the excellent bass and overall clarity, I think they're a great earphones.

If the AirPods have better SQ, that'd be awesome; but if they have the same sound quality but without the wires and with good (and hopefully passthrough when possible) audio compression, I'll be eager to buy a pair. And I think as more and more people wear them, they'll quickly become fashionable to wear.

On a related note, I hope Apple and others are eventually able to move to lossless, even lower latency compression for wireless audio. I absolutely love the lossless compression the AirPort Express provides via AirPlay.


While the klipsch headphones have wires, and don't have beam-forming noise cancelling mics.

Different strokes....


For me it's simple: I wear earphones a lot, I'm sick of dangling wires, and I find earpods comfortable (I don't like the style of Bluetooth earbuds that wedge in tight). And because I'll use them 90% for spoken word content, the audio quality is acceptable.

The only thing I don't like is the loss of volume and track controls. I'm hoping a software update will eventually address that.


The designers didn't design one set of headphones and say "we're done, sell it Phil". They designed a bunch of models and then they iterated on the best received of those until they had something better than the competition.

If you can't fathom why anyone would want them how do you explain the consistently positive reviews?




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