AirPods Hands-On: ‘They Stayed in My Ears and Sounded Awesome’

Susie Ochs, Macworld:

Now, that plastic has been a deal-breaker for me for years — I hate how normal EarPods feel in my ears. They don’t seem like they’re going to stay put, and they simply fall out if I move my head too much. Even if they do stay in, after about a half hour, my ears just start to ache, although I don’t experience the same pain when using earbuds with silicone or foam tips. Since the AirPods look so similar, I expected them to feel the same too — and I’m surprised and happy to report that I was dead wrong.

Not only did I dance, I headbanged. I shook my head side to side, I tossed my hair, I jogged in place, and I looked silly doing all of it. The AirPods stayed put, and they stayed loud. The music (more Sia, naturally) sounded full and lush and I couldn’t hear a single word anyone around me was saying, as if I was completely sealed off in a bubble of rock and roll. Pretty impressive.

My experience as well. I don’t mind Apple’s wired ear buds, but the AirPods feel better and fit better.

The AirPods’ special features are pretty impressive too, even though that specialness means they only work with Apple devices. You don’t need a brand-new iPhone or Apple Watch to use them, but they only support Apple devices running the latest operating systems: iOS 10, macOS Sierra, and watchOS 3. The AirPods use Bluetooth, so you would think maybe there’d be a way to pair them to an Android phone or an iOS 8 device since those have Bluetooth too, but there’s no button on the AirPods to put them into pairing mode. We’ll test to confirm when we get review units, but it seems like the AirPods will only be “seen” by Apple devices.

It’s true that the special pairing magic only works on Apple devices running the new OSes. But the AirPods can most certainly be used as regular old Bluetooth ear buds with an Android device or a Mac running a pre-Sierra OS or whatever. The pairing button is on the case, not the AirPods.

Thursday, 8 September 2016