When will Apple release its wireless AirPods? What do AirPods offer? How much will Apple's wireless headphones cost?
Rumours regarding Apple working on wireless headphones aren't new - they've been doing the rounds for years. However, what is new is the announcement of AirPods, Apple's wireless earphones, during the iPhone 7 launch. How much will AirPods cost, when will AirPods be available in the UK and more importantly, what do AirPods offer? These are all the questions we look to answer in this article.
Updated, 15 November, with a rumour that the AirPods could go on sale in mid-December
Apple AirPods release date, price UK: UK price
So, how much will Apple's new wireless AirPods set back the average consumer in the UK? Apple will sell the wireless earphones for £159 in the UK once they are released, which doesn't seem too bad when you consider that other wireless earphones (like Earin) cost around £150. However, the fact that the AirPods cost the same in dollars ($159) as they do in pounds may make prospective UK buyers feel a little hard done by.
Apple AirPods release date, price UK: Release date
If you can swallow that price tag, the wireless AirPods will be available in January 2017 from the Apple Store - according to Chinese supply chain sources. This might come to a disappointment to some, given that the initial release date was set for 'late October', but there have evidently been unforeseen delays. You'll have to hold out from treating others or yourself until after Christmas!
There was a rumour suggesting that a mid-November 2016 release seems likely, with 17 November looking most likely. However, that day came and went without any announcement from Apple - does this mean we won't be seeing AirPods in 2016?
While many thought so, a recent report seems to prove otherwise. As first reported by MacRumours, an unhappy Apple fan sent an email to Apple CEO Tim Cook enquiring about the release date of Apple's wireless earphones, as he wanted to decide whether or not to buy a different pair of wireless headphones. Much to their surprise, Cook allegedly emailed back:
"Thank you for your note. Sorry for the delay---we are finalizing them and I anticipate we will begin to ship over the next few weeks."
While "the next few weeks" leaves much to the imagination, it's possible that we could see a mid-December release, just in time for Christmas. MacRumours claims that it was able to verify that the email's headers came from Apple's company servers, and Cook is known to reply to customer emails every now and again, so this could be confirmation from the horses mouth that the AirPods are coming, and they're coming very soon.
Apple AirPods release date, price UK: What do Apple's AirPods offer?
But what makes Apple AirPods different from other Bluetooth earphones (and headphones) on the market? AirPods offers users a way to listen to their music wirelessly, which is a lot more important now that Apple has erased the standard 3.5mm headphone jack from its iPhone 7 range. The good news is that as they are Bluetooth-powered, they can be used with more than just an iPhone - it can also be used with a Mac, iPad and even an Apple Watch.
With regards to looks, the AirPods look similar to Apple’s standard EarPods, although (obviously) without any wires attached. The tail of the earphones is slightly longer too, and the addition of hints of silver give the wireless earphones a more premium look than their wired predecessors, and also come with a rather sleek looking carry/charge case, which will keep the little batteries topped up when not in use.
The headphones should prompt you to connect the first time you take the earphones out of its carry case, although that should be the last time you need to set them up - from that point on, they should connect to your iPhone automatically with the air of 'magic' that makes official Apple accessories seem irresistible.
Users are able to activate Siri via the AirPods with a single tap, although apart from that there are no buttons on the earphones. This means that unless you’re comfortable with using Siri to control your media playback and volume, you’ll still have to use your iPhone. The built-in microphones can also be used for hands-free calling, although we’re not sure if users will be able to answer calls without getting their phones out of their pockets first.
AirPods offer the pretty cool ability to detect when the earphones are being taken out of your ears thanks to built-in optical sensors and motion accelerometers, and will pause your music accordingly. This makes it easier to talk to people that may not realise you’re listening to music on wireless headphones. Once the conversation is over, putting the earphones back into your ears will resume music playback automatically. It’s the small things about AirPods that make them a viable option for those looking to buy wireless earphones, although we’ll have to reserve final judgements until we get a sample to test.
The biggest question people will have with regards to AirPods is with regards to battery life - how long will Apple’s AirPods last on a single charge? According to the company, AirPods should last an average of five hours per charge, although they feature quick charging technology that provides three hours of playback after 15 minutes of charging. The case itself offers around 24hrs of battery life before it’ll require charging.
Apple AirPods release date, price UK: Won't I lose the AirPods?
Possibly, although our experience suggests that the fit is good enough for most people that the don't fly out as easily as you'd think.
And there's been an amusing development from Spigen, a maker of accessories. The firm has announced a an 'AirPods strap' - a low-tech connector that attaches to both AirPods and holds them together, a bit like the string between those mittens you wore in primary school. If one of the AirPods falls out, the string will stop it falling on the floor.
On the other hand, it does rather take away the point of getting wireless headphones in the first place. I suppose you might be keen on wireless headphones, but just occasionally - when walking on the beach, say - you might be particularly eager to make sure they don't drop on the floor.
US readers can order the Spigen AirPods Strap from Amazon for $9.99, with a predicted shipping date of 17 October; it's not on the UK site just yet.
We'll update this article with more information as it comes in, so check back regularly for updates. Head on to Page 2 to see what rumours were circulating prior to the announcement of AirPods.