I’m Still on the Fence About AirPods

BY Evan Selleck

Published 28 Sep 2016


Truly wireless headphones are finally here, but is Apple’s option a realistic competitor to what’s already available?

There’s a Ryan Reynolds movie (not Deadpool) that released back in 2008, called Definitely, Maybe. It’s a romantic comedy, and it’s pretty forgettable, but there’s one part of the movie I’ll never forget: truly wireless headphones. It happens right in the beginning, and it shows Reynolds’s character put them into his ears, one at a time, and there isn’t a wire to be seen.

I remember seeing that and immediately wanting it. Of course, I searched around the ’net, tried to find something that would work, but back then it was just really terrible Bluetooth devices. Absolutely nothing like was shown off in the movie. It bummed me out at the time, but I moved on.

Here we are, eight years later, and truly wireless headphones are the real deal, just like they were shown in the movie. There are plenty of companies out there, like Bragi, who already have headphones out on the market, and Apple has its own AirPods on the way, too. Samsung and Motorola have some, too! There are options, and the market will be saturated soon enough.

Basically, what I’m saying here, is that I’ve been waiting for this for eight years, and I was hoping that Apple would be the company to beat. But, that isn’t the case. Not really.

I don’t think the AirPods look all that bad, to be honest. They look like regular EarPods, just without wires. Yes, not having wires is a bit strange, especially with that design, but I’m not completely against it. I’d wear them.

And that’s the kicker. I would wear them, but the parts that are missing make it feel like they’re not for me. Not yet.

The most ridiculous part (but not the most surprising), in my opinion, is the fact that Apple is trying to box me into using Apple Music. This part actually ties into the other missing feature, so it’s good to start here. Because, if you’ll recall, you don’t have any physical music playback controls on the AirPods themselves.

Siri will help you skip ahead in Spotify, and it can even pause the music, too. But you can’t skip back, and if you do pause the music, you can’t play it again. If you ask Siri to play a track when Spotify is paused, she’ll try to open the Apple Music app. So, if you use Spotify, the fool-proof way to control music will be to use the controls on your phone – which defeats the purpose in my opinion. Asking Siri to play a specific song, or artist, in Spotify just gets the digital personal assistant to open the app (that’s half the battle!), but the music won’t automatically start playing like it will in Apple Music.


And this leads me to the biggest pet peeve I have with the AirPods as first-generation products – they’re just slightly behind what the competition already has available. This is the same issue I have with the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard. They’re both great products (at least, I’m sure the AirPods will be a great product), but they’re simply missing key features that competitors are offering.

I don’t mind using Siri for volume control, and if I used Apple Music I probably wouldn’t have an issue using Siri to control music playback, either. At least, I don’t think I do. I’ve never really done it before, because I have physical controls to get that job done. I’m at least willing to give it a shot.

But I’m not dropping Spotify (for other reasons), which means the AirPods are a product that I can’t use. At least, not in the way that I think would justify the price tag. Not when there are alternatives out there from other companies that offer everything I’m looking for.

Apple has usually been able to sway me to their accessories just for keeping in the ecosystem, and the fact that the AirPods can connect so easily to Apple devices is a pretty strong reason why I’m still considering them, despite the missing features. But I’m not sure that the AirPods will sway me in their direction when they launch next month.

It’s also worth noting, here at the end, that it’s possible that Spotify gets more Siri integration in the future, even before the AirPods launch, and all of these complaints might very well go out the window. And I’ll be honest: I hope that happens, because then I’m definitely picking up some AirPods.

What about you? Are you looking forward to adopting the AirPods when they launch? Or are the missing physical playback controls something that’s drawing you away from them, too?