Half listening: A one-sided evaluation of AirPods

If you're categorically opposed to wireless headphones then, yeah, you're not going to like AirPods.


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Apple’s AirPods aren’t even out yet but did you know that they, like virtually all Apple products, already have a problem?

Of course you did. You read this column.

Writing for Yahoo Finance, Ethan Wolff-Mann says “The AirPods delay perfectly illustrates Apple’s earbuds problem.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Alex Fleming.)

From the moment Apple revealed its AirPods to the world last month, the company’s wireless earbud failed almost every sniff test.

You really should not be sniffing earbuds. That’s just gross.

It has a giant $159 price tag.

Apple products cost too much! They’ll never catch on.

It needs a 15-minute rest every five hours to charge.

I have to charge these wireless headphones?! When will the madness stop?!

Its sound is almost certainly worse than if the same earbuds used a wired connection.

I have no idea what they sound like but I’ll assume they sound like crap. I’m on deadline.

They look like ugly earrings.

They look exactly like the wired earbuds without the cords. Joke’s on you, you’ve been wearing ugly earrings with cables on them all this time and you didn’t know it.

We’re turning up the heat on these horrible earphones that Wolff-Mann hasn’t used. Now it’s time to ENGAGE THE CRAZY DRIVE AND FLY DIRECTLY TO BONKERSVILLE, SOUTH DAKOTA… IN AN INSTANT!

If one falls out, it doesn’t just dangle—it gets lost forever.

Yes, whenever an AirPod falls out of your ears, a portal to an alternate dimension opens up and swallows it before it hits the ground. You might think you could simply open up another portal and reach in to retrieve it but the alternate dimension is full of flame demons that subsist on AirPods. Very unfortunate design. Apple really didn’t think that through.

Also, worth pointing out that no one ever got wired headphones caught in a car door or on a knob and had them ripped out of their ears. That never happened once. No, wired headphones are the holy and completely perfect representation of audio listening perfection.

Remember, the point of Wolff-Mann’s article is not to provide balance. It’s only to bemoan the many, many flaws with the AirPods. So you won’t see anything about the benefits of losing wires or details about what features Apple’s W1 chip makes possible. No, instead you get stuff like this:

You can’t use a splitter.

You can’t tie packages up with wireless headphones! You just can’t!

But most of all, it’s a step away from elegant simplicity of something that just plain works.

Like the floppy drive, the VGA port and asbestos.

And now, according to TechCrunch, the new AirPods are delayed.

“These wireless headphones are horrible! And late!” is the new “The food here is terrible! And such small portions!”

Samsung has kindly shown us this year the perils of shipping too soon. The Macalope is looking forward to the AirPods but is happy to let Apple get them right before they ship.

When I was a kid…

Oh, boy, heeeere we go…

…a pair of headphones I had stopped working, and my mom sent me to my grandfather down the road. …inside a minute he had fixed the headphones with his soldering iron…

Then he gave me a shiny penny which I used to buy 15 gumdrops and a licorice whip!

Yes, it is very sad that many of of our modern conveniences are difficult to repair because added feature sets bring added complexity. Let us therefore stop progress here and go no further.

Even before the delay—which carried no details besides the need for more time—the AirPods were doomed to an inauspicious start by their very existence.

WIRELESS HEADPHONES ARE THE DEVIL’S WORK. Seriously, if you present not one single advantage of wireless headphones (let alone these particular wireless headphones), that’s effectively your argument.

At the end of the day, the AirPods fail a tech-version of Occam’s razor: Given two equal scenarios, discard the more complex one.

So, now we see why Wolff-Mann doesn’t present any advantages of wireless at all. Because once you accept that wireless has advantages, then you can’t use your “tech-version of Occam’s razor” because AirPods make Bluetooth simpler.

Ultimately, however, if your argument is that things are fine just the way they are, why are you covering technology?

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