will.i.am Launches Bluetooth Earphones With Apple

Bryan M. Wolfe for App Advice:

American singer and songwriter Will.i.am has released a new pair of wireless Bluetooth earphones. The $229.95 i.am+ EPs Bluetooth Wireless Headphones are available in black and black/gold through Apple.com and select Apple retail stores.

Don’t know why Apple tapped on will.i.am’s shoulder for this, but don’t let it fool you. This is a really big deal.

The design of these earphones are potentially revolutionary. Yes, I used the R-word.

They look great, and the metal ends of the earphones magnetically link to form a necklace. But most importantly, the form factor is unprecedented. I’ve never seen such streamlined wireless earphones before. Seems that its batteries are encased in the metal discs, while the controls is where the charger input is. Speaking of, it’s powered through Micro USB, perhaps to broaden its appeal… more on that later.

What really confirms that this could be revolutionary in my mind is how Apple is marketing this. From their website:

The metallic discs clasp around your neck for all-day wear. Their lightweight, no-fuss form means no interruption to your music or flow. So easy, so fresh, they’ll quickly become an everyday essential to complement your wardrobe.

They’re trying to rethink earphones with this, as a bonafide fashion item.

The i.am+ EP’s, I think, have huge strategic implications, which brings me to addressing the elephant in the room: the rumour that Apple is going wireless with their own earphones. The iPhone 7 is expected to lose the 3.5mm headphone jack, too. There’s almost no doubt in my mind that this will happen now that we’re seeing what’s possible, and that it’s coming from Apple, no less.

Having it Micro-USB-compatible allows for all types of users, regardless of the OS that runs on their devices, to try it for themselves. Then when (yes, when) Apple comes out with their own branded earphones*, potentially alongside the iPhone 7 with built-in support and in the box like the EarPods are now, it’ll create more appeal for the iPhone, considering doubts that the iPhone 7 might not be as much of a draw itself.

A few more takeaways:

  • 8 hour battery life. Not bad at all. Can’t imagine it taking too long to charge, like the Magic Keyboard, Mouse, and Trackpad.
  • Comes with "aptX enhanced music listening". Huh. Hopefully Apple could provide some explanation, onstage perhaps?
  • "Engraved messages - "right and wrong", "left and gone" - tucked behind earpieces to guide proper ear placement” - probably one of will.i.am’s personal touches.
  • Speaking of his personal touches, you’ll hear his voice through the earphones during the set-up process. Starting to make sense why Apple wanted a personality to launch headphones with. Why will.i.am of all people, though…
  • This streamlined form factor further cements the appeal of the Apple Watch being a viable music-listening device… well, partially. For gym-goers, probably the most likely to see the appeal, I don’t think they’d want to get these all sweaty.

*I’m avoiding to call them EarPods - I could see them calling them something new.