Less isn’t more: The wireless conundrum


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You know what the problem with all these wireless devices is? All the wires.

Writing for The Washington Post, Hayley Tsukayama complains “The wireless future ties us down more than ever.” (Tip o’ the antlers to @papanic.)

More than ever? Mmm, not really.

I have come across a surprising problem with my wireless AirPods, and it's made me stop traveling with them.

The “surprising” problem? They require something called “energy” to work. And this “energy”, whatever that is, does not arrive on the AirPods magically. No, you have to plug them in to an outlet. Except, in the case of the AirPods, those times you don’t have to.

They work well. And when I'm running with them or barreling through an airport with my carry-on, I silently thank them because I never get tangled…

They’re great for traveling! This is why I have decided to stop traveling with them.

As I add more cordless, smart and rechargeable stuff to my life, I've run more into a mundane but real issue: I still have too many cords to deal with when it's time to charge them.


Whoa. Can we… wow… back up and review for a second here?

Wireless devices mean you can spend less time with a cord. But they still sometimes need a cord. So just forget everything.

That’s the argument?

Now, presumably, Tsukayama is using her AirPods with an iPhone, so, uh, the Macalope will just point out that the charging cable is the same. Unless you’re not taking your phone, too, you’re already taking the cable you need to charge the AirPods. And you can charge the AirPod case whenever you’re not charging your iPhone. And then charge the AirPods any time, anywhere. Without wires.

Why is the Macalope having to explain the basic features of the AirPods? Did Apple’s site go down? Did fundamental logic go down? Can someone reboot fundamental logic? Just pull the cord out and plug it back in again.

I admit this may be the most first-world of problems.

This is actually more like the negative five-world of problems. People in the third world can’t even see this problem, not because of the curvature of the Earth but because of the curvature of the space-time continuum.

Now, if this had been about the Apple Watch, it might make sense. It is a minor travel annoyance that it uses a different cable, one that is substantially longer. But it’s not about the Apple Watch.

Of course, when Apple makes its Pencil only chargeable by putting it in the Lightning port of the iPad, everyone cheers for the lack of wires and hahahaha of course not, they hate it.

So while the wireless future we've been promised is so close, it's tethered to the reality that every “wireless thing” still needs a wire to charge.

And what about relativity?! Still acting like some cosmic police officer preventing us from traveling faster than the speed of light?! Get over yourself, relativity.

For now, when I'm traveling somewhere likely to be short on outlets, I'll opt to pack my analog watch or a pair of wireless headphones that also have an audio cable…

So, instead of packing your AirPods, which only need the cable you’re already taking, you’ll pack a pair of headphones… with another cable.

…just to free up some space.

Right, just to… just to free up some… space.


Ultimately, the sad truth of the matter is there is no real magic that can solve the problem of electronic devices requiring electricity. The world is not fair.

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