Apple users have been given an early Christmas period with deliveries of its Bluetooth earphones ‘AirPods’ beginning in Australia and New Zealand.
The deliveries and in-store availability mark the end of rare public misstep by Apple, which saw it delay the availability of AirPods by several months.
The official reason Apple gave for the delay was that it needed “a little more time”, but that left particularly customers of its new iPhone 7 device in somewhat of a bind.
One of the key features of the iPhone 7 was the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Apple included its standard wired EarPods with the iPhone but it connects via the sole Lightning connector. In addition, Apple made a 3.5mm to Lightning adapter to allow users a way to still plug in wired earphones.
However, because both of these options use the Lightning connection, it meant an iPhone 7 user could either listen to music or charge their phone – but not do both at the same time.
Though any wireless headphones or earphones should fix it, many users will have waited for the official AirPods release.
Customers in capital cities across Australia reported AirPods stock in Apple retail stores, however there were indications of long queues in some locations as well as the sellout of the items.
MacRumours suggested that, based on the Australian experience, customers in Asia, the US and UK may want to queue early for a chance at getting hold of a pair.
In-store availability came after Apple began offering AirPods for online sale last week.
Apple said the AirPods can be connected to devices quickly by placing their charging case near the device and tapping a pop-up screen.
That action “immediately sets up [the AirPods] with all the devices signed into your iCloud account, including your Apple Watch, iPad and Mac,” Apple said.
The product also comes with sensors – a motion sensor to detect when AirPods are in your ear and can automatically play and pause your music when an AirPod is removed; and a pressure sensor that allows “double tapping [to] activate Siri”, which can be used to select and control music, get directions, make and receive calls or perform any other Siri task.
Charging the AirPods is also innovative. The AirPods themselves last for up to five hours, but their charging case can last for 24 hours without being plugged into a wall, meaning users can recharge on the go without being near a power source.
With AirPods now shipping, more in-depth reviews of the AirPods have begun to appear online.
CNET’s take was that the sound is on-par with the wired EarPods that come free with devices like the iPhone 7; and that the AirPods surprisingly stay in one’s ears despite a lot of head movement.
However, CNET was less enthused about the sensor controls, noting that you can only choose whether to use the AirPods to summon Siri or to play or pause tracks; both pieces of functionality can’t be active at once, and the choice has to be made in the Bluetooth settings of the paired device.
The required double tap for control could also be uncomfortably hard for some users.