23 December 2016
I love AirPods, no question. More than any individual feature or fancy tidbit, AirPods are remarkable in their straightforwardness. They almost lack technology. Take the earbuds out of the case and stare at them. Look for something that spoils the magic, something that reveals the way they work. No switches, buttons or plastic antenna windows — there is nothing to see. It’s just a bare headphone earbud which does not have a wire trailing from the bottom.
Pick them up. The AirPods are as light as normal earbuds and as small as normal earbuds. Standalone, no one would know they have digital chips, radios and components inside. The stalk is longer and the body is imperceptibly wider than an EarPod, that’s it. Imagine what a wireless EarPod would look like and the AirPods are pretty much exactly what you think of.
The charging case has more concessions to the technical implementation like the presence of a button on the back, the orange metal contacts in the cavity, the integrated Lightning port, and the most obvious giveaway being the status LED. Nevertheless, if you were tasked with making a plastic carry case for two earbuds, this is pretty damn close to that hypothetical design.
It really impressed me that whilst the case includes circuitry and a battery, it weighs inline with what I would expect a block of plastic that size to be without all the technology. It doesn’t feel like there is other stuff inside.
It is a feat how normal and plain and naturally-occurring the AirPods are as an object; I am mesmerised by how they act so smart but look so dumb. I mean that in a good way. The software experience of using them is pretty great too. I’m very happy.