Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Stephen Hackett

The Hackett File: Thinking about AirPods 2

I really like my AirPods. I got them in the early days, when you still had to tackle people in the Apple Store line each morning for a chance to pick them up.

Since then, I’ve used them consistently. They are great at the gym, while pacing around my office on conference calls and doing the dishes. I’ve worn them on airplanes, in subways and even on the roof of my house while clearing out gutters. (Gotta get those podcasts listening hours in!)

I honestly think AirPods are my favorite new Apple product over the last several years, edging out the iPhone X and even my iMac Pro in terms of how much they have improved my daily life.

I don’t think we’re going to see AirPods 2 this fall, but there are a few features I wouldn’t mind seeing Apple add to the wireless earbuds.

Gesture Support. By far the thing I wish for the most is gesture support. I really dislike tapping on my AirPods to invoke Siri. First, I find the tapping itself fairly uncomfortable. Secondly, Siri. Sigh.

If Apple could add the ability to swipe up and down on the AirPods’ stem for things like volume control of even skipping tracks, making these adjustments while working out or just walking around would be quite a bit nicer.

I think tapping should still be tied to Siri; in the future, I think we will all want a voice assistant that close to us at all times. Until Siri is ready for that future, falling back to more manual controls would be a welcome change.

Better Battery Life. My AirPods definitely live up to Apple’s “5 hours of listening time” claim, but more is always better. This is an evergreen wish of mine across all my technology, but worth making here.

More Reliable Pairing. My AirPods can be slow to wake up and re-pair with my iPhone. Often times, I have to flip open the lid and wait several seconds for them catch up.

Moving between my iPhone and iPad, my AirPods follow seamlessly, as advertised. When it comes to the Mac, however, they sometimes really struggle to connect. It’s as if the connection will timeout, with the AirPods then deciding to repair with my iPhone instead.

The ToothFairy app by Michael Tsai can overcome this, forcing the AirPods to connect. No offense to Tsai, but Apple should Sherlock this feature and make the Mac a first-class AirPod citizen.

Don’t get me wrong; even on their worst day, AirPods are much nicer to deal with than old-school Bluetooth headphones, but I don’t quite think they live up the number of times Apple has referred to its wireless tech as magical. AirPods should be frustration-free, and right now, they are frustratingly close to that goal.

Colors. I understand why AirPods are white. It’s the color of Apple’s music hardware for the last 17 years. I think Apple is trying to revive some of the white headphone magic of the iPod days with the AirPods. There’s a sense of sibling-hood we feel when we see someone else with them in at the gym or on the train.

But it’s 2018 now. Beats come in a wide range of colors, and AirPods should, too. I’ll take mine Henry Ford style, in any color as long as its black.

[Stephen Hackett is the author of 512 Pixels and co-founder of Relay FM.]

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