Apple's bluetooth AirPod headphones are maybe the purest expression of the Apple design philosophy. One look at them and it’s obvious this is an Apple product. Small and sleek, simple to use, no extra features, and they look like no other product on the market.
I don’t often talk about non photography products but these little headphones have found a permanent place in my camera bag so I decided to spend a few minutes talking about them.
When unboxing the AirPods the first thing that came to mind is that the case reminds me of the original iPod. All white with a touch of chrome on the back. The choosing to have the case serve double duty as the charging station was a brilliant choice. Looking back it seems like an obvious way to charge Bluetooth headphones, and that kind of design is what we expect from Apple. The case has a lightning port for charging and I was pleasantly surprised to find a lightning cable included in the package.
The AirPods work with all of the current and recent products that have the newer version of the Bluetooth protocol. That would include the iPhone, iPad, iMacs, and Apple laptops. It takes longer to explain how to pair the AirPods to an Apple product than it takes to actually complete the process. The secret is your Apple ID. Once’s paired with one product the information syncs to your other devices so that they are ready to connect immediately. First remove the case with the headphones from the retail packaging but don’t open them just yet. To pair iOS devices 10.3 and later first turn on the device and make sure Bluetooth is turned on. Take the case and place it within 2 inches of your iOS device and open the top. In a few moments a screen that says connect will appear, press connect and in a few seconds you’ve paired with your device and are ready to listen to music.
Like I said earlier the case is the charging station. On the bottom is a port for connecting a lightning cable. This is the same cable that charges an iPhone or iPad. When the case opens a small LED between the AirPods shows the charge status of the buds. Green means they are charged, Orange when they need some charging. The case stores extra energy when it is connected to a charger. That way if they run out of juice when away from home you can pop them in the case which will charge them for another 24 hours of use.
People that have never used the AirPods assume that they fall out easy and are worried about loosing them. I have found that they stay in my ears better than the wired headphones. I think the biggest problem with wired headphones is that the cord is always getting tugged. With no cables to get tangled the wireless buds stay surprisingly snug. Another concern is sound quality. To put it simply they sound great. Lots of bass and the volume is sufficient for all types of music and podcasts. AirPods are not noise canceling headphones so they would not be the choice for a trip on an airplane. But for most other uses they are great.
When I’m out shooting by myself away from everyone I have wanted to listen to music on my phone. The cords from standard headphones are always getting tangled with my camera strap so I don’t often listen to music. Ever since receiving my AirPods they are always in my camera bag.
One word of caution is that I don’t recommend listening to music in an urban environment when photographing. Stay aware of the people around you when photographing. Thieves are everywhere.