When Apple unveiled the iPhone 7, much ado was made over the new model’s missing headphone jack. But Cupertino had a solution to assuage those worries: a pair of $159 Bluetooth earphones called AirPods that would ship just a few weeks after the new iPhones. But October came and went without an AirPods release date, and now that the holidays are upon us, it’s clear that Apple’s cord-free earphones just aren’t ready for the public yet. So what’s going on?
According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple may have run into trouble with the connection between the wireless pods. Each piece receives Bluetooth signals independently, but they must play audio at the same time. Apple hasn’t said what the problem is (and they likely won’t), but Bluetooth and audio experts told the WSJ that common problems wireless earphones face are losing Bluetooth signal outdoors, ensuring the microphone picks up the wearer’s voice while blocking out background noise, and figuring out what to do if buyers lose one piece (free or cheap replacements?).
The strange thing is that Apple sent out AirPods to a handful of tech reviewers a couple months back, and those reviews were published around the expected launch date in October. (They were mostly positive.) We went hands-on—er, ears-on—with the AirPods at Apple’s iPhone event in September and were impressed.
Analysts at Barclays expect Apple to start mass producing the AirPods this month but with a limited first run of 10–15 million units.
This isn’t the first time Apple has had to delay a product—the white iPhone 4 was postponed in 2010 for nine whole months. Why? Protecting the white paint behind the glass from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. (Seriously.)
People are understandably disappointed that they haven’t been able to snag AirPods yet. They’re pretty awesome, with 5-hour battery life, Siri support, perfectly seamless pairing, and a charging case. But Apple would be in serious trouble if they shipped a faulty product, so the decision to delay the AirPods’ official launch is likely the best course of action.