Months after trumpeting its breakthrough, Apple hasn’t made AirPods available in time for the critical holiday season
Cole Kinnard has been pining for Apple Inc.’s wireless AirPod headphones since September, but the college sophomore recently scratched them off his Christmas list.
Apple’s mysterious AirPods delay continues to puzzle us. Marking a rare public misstep, the company’s failed to make its first-ever Bluetooth earphones available in time for the critical holiday season because, as Apple said, it needed “a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers.”
A person familiar with the product’s development told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that the problem with the AirPods stems from Apple’s efforts to “chart a new path for wireless headphones” and, specifically, resolve what happens when you lose one of the earphones or its battery dies on you.
Apple engineers wanted to overcome the fact that most other wireless headphone makers use only one earpiece to receive data from a host device via Bluetooth, then transmit the signal to the other earpiece.
Apple’s approach with the AirPods calls for dual Bluetooth connectivity: inside of each AirPod is Apple’s in-house designed W1 chip that manages battery life and “produces extremely efficient” wireless performance for a better connection and improved sound.
If one of the AirPods fails or gets lost, you can still use the other earpiece. The problem with this approach: both earpieces must receive audio at the same time to avoid distortion.
The person familiar with their development said Apple also must resolve what happens when a user loses one of the earpieces or the battery dies.
Kiril Trajkovski, co-founder of Earin, a wireless headphone competitor, opined that another challenge Apple is faced with may involve having a microphone inside the AirPods that can pick up a user’s voice while excluding background noise.
Now, the AirPods do have a built-in microphone in each earpiece because they use beamforming technology to filter out external noise and let Siri focus on the sound of your voice.
“Optical sensors and motion accelerometers work with the W1 chip to automatically control the audio and engage the microphone, giving you the ability to use one or both AirPods,” says Apple. “They also enable AirPods to play sound as soon as they’re in your ears.”
The AirPods are listed on Apple.com as “coming soon,”