Apple Announces AirPods Max

Announced today, shipping in a week:

  • $550. Helps make full-size HomePods seem not so expensive.
  • Space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink color options. Makes me wonder why regular AirPods and especially AirPods Pro only come in white.
  • Apple Watch-style digital crown for volume and playback control.
  • If you want to use them wired, you’ll need a Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone jack cable. Apple’s 1.2 meter cable costs $35 (but does come in both white and black); Amazon, unsurprisingly, sells a bunch of cheaper ones.
  • Update: Those cheaper cables probably won’t work. Even the Belkin Audio Cable With Lightning Connector that Apple itself sells now has a warning: “Note: This cable is not compatible with AirPods Max or Beats Solo Pro.” You need a bi-directional Lightning to 3.5 mm cable that can be used for both audio-in and audio-out — I’m not sure if any cable other than Apple’s does that.
  • Evans Hankey, VP of industrial design, narrates the product video — her first stint as narrator, unless I missed one.

Updates: System requirements:

AirPods Max require Apple devices running iOS 14.3 or later, iPadOS 14.3 or later, macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later, watchOS 7.2 or later, or tvOS 14.3 or later.

Seems like a good guess that these OS updates will all roll out by next week.

Estimated ship dates are tight, to say the least, if you’re thinking about buying these for someone as a holiday gift. The color ones — green, blue, and pink — aren’t shipping until February or March. As I type this, you can order silver for arrival next week (“December 15–17”) but if you get them engraved, that gets pushed back to December 31. Space gray — engraved or not — are pushed back to December 29–31 already. For a while earlier today, you could order engraved space gray ones with an arrival date sooner than un-engraved.

Notes from Jason Snell:

  • Replacement cushions are $69 […]
  • No claims about water resistance so maybe don’t exercise in these
  • 5 minutes charge nets 90 mins of use

Notes from Matthew Panzarino:

  • They do work with Find My
  • They do NOT support USB audio (only 3.5mm via optional cable)
  • They do not function without a charge passively.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020