In September, during the iPhone 7 launch event, Apple announced its upcoming wireless earbuds, the AirPods. The AirPods were to be released by end of the following month, October. However, the company was required to push back to the launch date due to unannounced reasons and no future date was offered.
On Tuesday, December 13, the AirPods were very unceremoniously placed for sale on the Apple website. AirPods were listed in the store, since September; however, only beginning Tuesday, were they actually available for purchase. The bigger question remains: will they be available for holiday shopping?
AirPods appear to be a very aggressive advancement in wireless listening. Bluetooth earbuds have been available for many years but were never really able to ditch the wire. At first, Bluetooth headphones were big and bulky, over the ear style. Slowly, they evolved into much smaller buds but required a large neck band for all of the battery. More recently, you can find buds with just in-ear units, but a connection cable still connects the two.
In the last 12-18 months, in-ear buds are making a splash. No cables, no wires. Just two buds, right in your ears. Apple has tried to perfect this style with the AirPods. Two, completely wireless buds, that both pair with your iOS or Apple devices. With dual pairing, this also means listening can occur in a single bud at a time. This would be great for phone conversations or even podcasts, as it extends the listening time across both buds.
If you find charging a concern, the AirPods come in a little capsule, that contains its own on-board backup battery. The AirPods are advertised to last five listening hours on a single charge and the case can add another ~19 hours to that timeline. A short 15-minute charge in the case will offer at least three hours of additional listening time.
As these are built by Apple, expect Siri interaction. Tapping either AirPod will initiate Siri and provide actionable control over iPhone. Simple instructions like “Call xxx,” “Play xxx playlist or song,” and even directional requests from the iPhone GPS can be actioned.
With a strong offering, the Apple AirPods are sure to be popular. At $159.00, the units are hardly a stocking stuffer and more a proper holiday gift. Unfortunately, due to Apple’s late launch and either A) massive interest in the past 24 hours or B) a low manufacturing yield, the shipping times have already slipped well past the holiday season. Purchasing a pair of AirPods today would have them arriving, in an estimated four weeks, or sometime around January 15.
If you are hoping to gift AirPods for the holidays, you may want to go for an Apple Gift card and let your giftee place the order themselves. Pro tip: make sure you purchase an Apple Store card, not an Apple iTunes card. You can find a description of each and make a purchase through the Apple gift card site.