The Flaws With Apple's AirPods

Lots of reviews for Apple’s new wireless earphones have come out, almost all of which are favorable. It isn’t surprising in itself, but it’s a nice breath of fresh air to see the consensus not being bitter towards Apple or their decision making, especially these days.

I found the points raised by the guys at Accidental Tech Podcast to be particularly interesting – in a nutshell, it works like “low-level magic” but not totally absent of friction points. For example, there’s tapping the AirPods – to activate Siri, Play/Pause, etc. – being somewhat uncomfortable. I tried it out with my EarPods (which should be a comparable experience, at least) and I found the pressing of plastic against my ear, especially the sound, more irritating than I thought it would be.

Another point that was brought up, which had been floating around in my head as well, was the possibility of different-sized AirPods. The complaint of AirPods not being able to fit everyone’s ears was brought up in all the reviews I’ve seen, which makes it surprising to me that those reviews, while having mentioned it, aren’t holding it against Apple as something worth looking into. Maybe it comes with the perception brought with the EarPods – that while one size doesn’t really fit all, it fits just enough people. However true that is, maybe different sizes can come later when Apple can cover demand sufficiently for the existing single-sized models.

Overall, I think these are nitpicks in the grand scheme of things – the AirPods seem to be a near-excellent product. I should note that a lot of people are associating this product with the “old Apple” led by Steve Jobs before he died, mainly because it’s a product that “just works”. I think that as difficult as it was engineering-wise to realize the AirPods, it’s simple enough to not require an interface that’s mainly software-based, or to require an OS at all, making it seem easier to use. I’d imagine the ID team at Apple had a fun (and relatively easy) time conceptualizing how the product should be interacted with because of that.