On this episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, The Verge’s Lauren Goode and Recode’s Kara Swisher discuss the finer points of Apple’s wireless headphones, the AirPods.
How do they work? Why did Apple delay their release? Do they fall out of your ears? Are they a pain to sync up with other Apple products? In short, is it a must-have purchase?
You can read some of the highlights from their discussion at that link, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Transcript by Celia Fogel.
Lauren Goode: So Kara, you are in D.C., and by the time this podcast airs — we’re taping this the day before inauguration day — by the time it airs it will be inauguration day.
Kara Swisher: Yes, I’m here in D.C. I am. I have to be here. My kids live here. And so I am here. I am not here for the inaugural. I have to say I was not invited, although there’s plenty of tickets apparently and they’re giving them away on Twitter and stuff like that.
Oh, are you thinking of going?
No, I’m thinking of not going. I’m thinking of holing up in my house underneath a blanket all day, that’s my plan.
Are you marching at all?
Yes, parts of it I am. Yes, it’s the women’s march. And I’m bringing the boys, which I think is really important. And it’ll be interesting, it’ll be interesting. There’s a lot of marches going on, it’s not just the women’s march. There’s all sorts of groups coming in, many on opposing sides. So it should be quite an active weekend here in Washington, D.C.
If you are concerned, by the way, or at the very least interested about your digital footprint now that we have a new administration coming — and with the new administration comes new policies sometimes. We did tape a podcast in early November with the Verge’s Russell Brandom about things like secure messaging apps. We even talked about fake news at the time, which has been a persistent story. And a whole bunch of other stuff. So you can check that out.
Absolutely. You can go to Recode or to iTunes and find these. This episode was from November 11. And it is really important. This administration is likely to have a more stringent policy around these issues. So you have to pay attention to your own information.
Absolutely. Well, with that in mind, we’re not talking about politics the whole time. Some of you may be relieved to hear that, you’re like, “I tuned in for something else.” And so we’re going to give that to you.
Well, you’re going to get it.
We’re talking all about Apple’s new wireless earbuds today, also known as AirPods. So I happened to have been using a couple of review units of AirPods since around September, and I’m actually kind of amazed at the number of questions we’ve gotten, because wireless earphones are not a totally new thing. But they were new for Apple in some ways, so we’re going to try and answer some of these questions today.
Yeah. One of the interesting things, I get asked about them all the time. I was a dinner the other night in New York and three people asked, you know, we’re thinking of getting them and wanted to know what I thought, and I had not used them. I’d love to know your impressions because everybody’s asking whether to buy them or not, and again, I haven’t tried them. So it’s an interesting thing, people are intrigued by Apple doing them, I think. And if they’re Apple people they want to use the Apple products.
Even if you haven’t used them, Kara, I’m actually curious to hear your opinion about how they look.
They look like earrings.
You think they look like earrings.
They look like fake earrings from the ’70s, big plastic earrings. Like white plastic earrings. Or the ’60s, even. They look like Austin Powers to me.
Yeah, right, exactly. You can always say there’s no differences between men and women, but there are. But I’ve seen a couple of men in them and they look like they’re wearing earrings. And if that’s their thing, of course as usual I’m good with anything like that.
But from the look of it, it seems odd-looking. I find them odd-looking. The whole point of wireless headphones is they’ve grown to be that you don’t notice them quite as much. And I’ve never liked when the wireless thing hung down and when you’re talking on the street. And I’ve liked them as they’ve gotten smaller and smaller and less and less obvious.
Right, for those of you who haven’t been following the AirPods as feverishly as people in tech have been, AirPods are Apple’s first step into truly wire-free headphones. So Apple has made wired headphones for a long time, they come with your iPhone, and more recently they’ve been called earpods. And then when Apple bought the company Beats a few years ago, they basically bought into wireless headphones because Beats makes a lot of wireless headphones. These are the ones that you kind of hook around your ears and then there will be a wire still that might go like around the back of your neck, but they’re sending the audio signals over some type of wireless protocol, or you’re getting a wireless signal from your phone.
You’re getting the music from your phone that way. These have zero wires. So that’s what makes them kind of different. There are a couple companies that have been doing these. Samsung has made the Icon X wireless earbuds. There’s a company called Braggy that has made something called Braggy Dash and they did a follow up pair as well that are completely wireless. The idea is you just take these things, stick them in your ears, and there are literally no wires anywhere. And they’re $160.
That’s a lot. That’s a lot, correct? That seems like a lot to me, or is it not? Because I’ve bought a bunch of wireless earbuds and they’re always usually under $100.
I mean, I’ll be honest. I’m not a big audiophile, so for me I could use a pair of $50 Skull Candies and I’m pretty happy with those, if, let’s just say, the earpods that come with the phone don’t work for you, because they don’t really work for me.
But so some people get really really into their headphones. People will spend thousands of dollars on a good pair of headphones or hundreds of dollars. And so if you look at AirPods compared to those prices, of course, it’s less.
But it’s a little bit more than you might spend on your typical low-grade wired pair of headphones. So I don’t know, I don’t think people are balking at the price of them as much as I thought they would. I think initially when they were announced, they were announced alongside the iPhone 7, and a customer said, “Wait, Apple’s getting rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7? That means I can’t use the wired headphones that I’ve had for years? This is ridiculous. Oh and here’s a $160 solution to that? No thanks.” I think that when they were looked at as sort of a solution to that problem, it seemed ridiculous to make people pay $160 for that. But actually, the iPhone 7 comes with a lightning pair of headphones that are supposed to work with the phone.
They do, and then you can buy the dongle. You can buy the dongle ...
[laughs] The dongle.
Because I still am using them. You know, eventually these things, they break or something doesn’t happen, but I have tons and tons of old headsets. And so I’ve been using the dongle and it works just fine. So what makes them so special that I want to pay that much for these things?
One of the things that Apple announced when they announced these AirPods was a special chip that Apple developed itself in-house called the W1. This is a wireless chip that they say is supposed to make the connectivity between all your devices easier. Because for anyone who’s used Bluetooth headphones, you know that when you first go to pair it with things, and sometimes subsequently even after you already have paired them with things, you still have to go back and repair. You have to go into your phone and you have to go into the settings and the Bluetooth menu and then you find your list of Bluetooth devices and then you find the pair you’re looking for and then you connect them.
And any time you’re going to connect to a new device like in your car, or, I don’t know, it could be something in your home, you have to go through the whole process over and over again. And one of the things that Apple has promised with the W1 chip is a more passive kind of experience with that. It’s kind of cool, actually, when you first open up the AirPods, you have your phone nearby, your iPhone. And you know, let’s assume that Bluetooth is turned on on your iPhone. And then you just kind of flick open the top of the little AirPods case and this screen pops up on your iPhone that says, “Would you like to connect your AirPods?” And you say yes. And that’s it. It’s a super simple process.
Yeah, so it’s easy. And did you find any problems doing that? Did it never not work?
So when it didn’t work was when it came to pairing with things like my older Mac. And then I actually talked to one of our other colleagues at Recode, Joe Brown, who has his AirPods — he was so excited to get his AirPods — and he has Apple TV, he’s a big user of Apple TV, and he said that to connect them to Apple TV you still had to do it the way that you would do any Bluetooth device, which is go into the Bluetooth menu, go to the drop-down menu and find the product and click connect and that sort of thing. So it wasn’t as passive with that.
Apple does say, I believe, that any device that’s running the newest version of the Mac operating system should connect in that passive way. It didn’t work that way for me. I still have to go into my Bluetooth menu and I have to, on my Mac, do it that way. So it doesn’t work 100 percent the way it’s been promised. But the promise is supposed to be that once you’ve connected your AirPods to your iPhone then if you were to pick up your iPad, let’s say, it knows, it’s magic, and then they connect to that. So that’s part of the whole promise of W1.
So that’s what’s special about them. Because it is ... all these things are hard to connect. I’ve always found issues, even like Jamboxes or my wireless earphones that I use when I listen to audiobooks — I have a very nice pair. I’m trying... they’re not Beats but they’re in that genre. And I find I’m always fiddling with them at all times.
Mhmm, yeah. You know, these are very first-world problems, right, when you get to the point where you’re like, “Oh, I have so many Bluetooth devices in my tech-filled world that it’s a pain in the ass …”
Oh, let’s stop apologizing.
But it’s a real thing. It takes time to do this stuff, right?
They’re never easy. None of the wireless things I’ve owned have ever been easy to use. And I have to, I’m constantly fixing them for my kids and for my mom. It’s the same thing in the car. Same thing that happens when you’re in the car and it’s a really interesting ...
The car is the worst.
Yeah, I have like an aftermarket Bluetooth solution and it’s a complete crapshoot as to whether or not it’s going to work in the car.
So tell me why these were delayed. Because this was another thing, they were supposed to come out and then they didn’t.
They were announced in September with the iPhone and then they didn’t start shipping until the end of December and even now people are still waiting for them. Casey Newton, my colleague at The Verge, just ordered a pair this week, he was very excited to try them. He got a notification that said it’s going to be six weeks. So yeah, they were initially delayed, we don’t exactly know why but we think it was for technical reasons. Apple had simply said at the time that they weren’t ready. There was some suggestion that the issues may have had to do with syncing up the audio signals going to each ear. I don’t want to get too technical about this, but there are some wireless earbuds that you put one wireless earbud in and that is essentially sending a signal through your head to the other earbud on the other side of your head.
Oh my God, it sounds bad.
The AirPods don’t work that way. The audio signal from your phone is being sent to the right earbud and the left earbud at the same time so that the signal is not going through your head. And so there may potentially have been issues with getting those streams to sync up perfectly from ear to ear. But we don’t know. We actually don’t know, Apple never said what the problem was, and we don’t know if there are still maybe technical issues. I mean, as far as we know, the production-ready units are shipping. And I haven’t personally experienced those audio syncing problems, so ...
So you have them, you’ve been using them. What are your first impressions of them briefly before we get to questions from readers. Listeners.
Over time I like the way they look less and less, which has surprised me. Initially I thought, okay, they look kind of cool.
You liked them at first?
Yeah, I think it was novelty. I thought, you know, it was the novelty of them. I said, okay, those are cool, they’re white, they look kind of Apple-y, they look like Apple devices. And they worked for me. And they still do. So I thought, okay, great, I like the way they look a little bit less overtime, I really hope that Apple manages to shrink them in size because now that I’ve seen other completely wirefree buds come out that look cooler, I’d rather have something like that.
So what is wrong with the look? Is that it looks like earrings, right?
They just have these long cigarette stick ends that hang down. And there’s a lot of stuff, there’s a lot of technology you need to fit into this little thing, and battery life too. So that’s a challenge. But I wish they were a little bit smaller. But I will say that I work out with them a lot and I’m like amazed at how they stay in my ears. And my college Sean O’Cain, who did our review at The Verge, he did not have that experience. They did not stay in his ears, he couldn’t recommend them for people like himself — by the way, he had a bad experience with earpods as well — and so for some people they’re just not going to fit, but I’ve literally jumped rope in them.
Yeah, when we get to readers’ questions, that seems to be an issue. They look like they’re not going to stay in. They do, they look like they’re going to fall right out, which is interesting.
Yeah, they do.
I tried them on super briefly when they introduced them and it felt, I was so aware of them. And I didn’t imagine that I would stop being aware of them. You know, I always forget that when I have earbuds in; I have people saying, “Take your earbuds out.” And I’m like, oh, I didn’t realize I had them in. Even when the wires are dangling down. But I was super aware of these things.
Yeah, you do remain aware of them, I would say, as you’re wearing them. Like I’ll put them in when I get home from work and then I’ll be doing stuff around the apartment but I’ll be making phone calls and listening to music at the same time, and it’s not like, oh I’ve just had them in for the past couple of hours and I’ve completely forgotten they’re there. You’re still sort of aware of them in this weird way.
Yeah, because they look silly. All right, so we’re going to get to some readers’ questions in a minute, but would you pay the $160 for them yourself?
I would, because that to me is not an exceptionally high bar in terms of costs.
Well do you want them? I mean you’re a gadget person. If you were just like ... if you had to just choose yourself, would you be like, “I don’t want to buy them.”
I’m going to order them because I do like to try all the newest stuff and everything, and I use them primarily for workout purposes and I’m willing to invest in stuff like that. And they fit in my ears. But I think that last part is the most important thing and for some people they just, you know, it’s not going to work for them.
Yeah, unless they’re smaller I’m not going to ...
Are you going to buy them?
Nope. No. I have no interest in them, I don’t like the hanging ...
You can borrow my pair.
Oh that’s disgusting, I’m not putting your earbuds in my ears. [LG laughs] All that ear wax you have, Lauren.
I do not have earwax. Casey Newton is using the pair that I was wearing before.
Oh I wouldn’t let Casey Newton put on my earbuds! That’s even worse! Oh my God.
Oh yeah, The Verge is just sharing all kinds of headphones around here. Maybe that’s why we’re all sick.
Exactly, I don’t do that.
Can you get sick from headphones?
I don’t know.
I don’t share headphones. I’m clean that way. We have a lot of questions from our readers and listeners. More than usual. So in a minute we’re going to tackle those and Lauren’s going to answer all of them. But first ...
This week we’re answering your questions about Apple’s AirPods. So Lauren, I’m going to read them and then you’re going to answer them, how about that? Does that sound good?
That sounds lovely.
And you better have the answers, that’s all I have to say. This is from Margaret, @notevenbigdata, I don’t know what that means. “How does the size/comfort compare to earpods? I have always found those too big for my apparently small ears.”
This is the No. 1 question that people have asked us since September. It’s a great question. According to Sean O’Cain, who wrote our review on The Verge as I mentioned, for him the wired earpods didn’t fit in his ears, they don’t fit in his ears, and AirPods don’t fit in his ears. So I mean, that’s anecdotal and that’s just one person, but I think in a lot of ways the earpods are a good proxy for the AirPods. So if you are a person who the earpods don’t work for you or you experience extreme discomfort with them, there’s a good chance the AirPods won’t work for you either. And I hope I’m saying those things differently enough so you actually understand and you’re not sitting in your car right now saying, “Why does she keep saying earpods, earpods, earpods.”
Basically I think they’re a pretty good proxy for you. The one thing I will note though is because AirPods have a lack of cables, there’s a little less weight pulling them down. Even though they look like they’re going to fall out of your ears, they’re actually very light. And so there’s a chance that the AirPods, the wirefree AirPods, may kind of rest in your ear a little bit differently than the wired earpods do. But generally they’re kind of designed the same way.
So this next question asks that too. @TimothyVB. “Earpods fall out of my ears, is there anyway to test AirPods without purchasing and returning them?”
You can try them on in stores. Kara, you must be so grossed out by that, just thinking of all the people ...
[laughs] I am grossed out.
… going in the stores, sticking things in their ears.
But can you buy them and return them? Is that possible?
You can return them. I’m pretty sure. I haven’t looked into the specific return policy around it. I should. It’s probably available online but Apple is generally pretty good about returning things. So yeah, I think you can try them and return them. I wouldn’t be too concerned about that. Keep in mind you might not get them for several weeks if you order them now and so that whole process isn’t going to happen for a long time. If you happen to live near an Apple store or maybe even one of the other retailers that is selling them — like they’re available through Best Buy, I believe, as well — you might want to try finding a physical retail location and try them on first just to see if they work for you.
Okay. Kevin Cruel, @Cruel, “Do they look cool or stupid?”
I’m going to turn this one back on you, Kara. Kevin wants to know if they look cool or stupid.
They look stupid. [laughs] They look stupid. You don’t look cool. I have yet to see someone who looks cool in them. And men in particular for some reason. You know, I should like men with earrings, I live in the Castro of San Francisco. So there’s something about them that just ... Austin Powers-like, I don’t know, I just don’t think it looks good.
What would you change about them?
I don’t love wireless, I don’t like many of the wireless ones before the black ones that made you look like Gordon Gecko either. But these, I don’t know, they’re just sort of these sticks sticking out of people’s ears. It feels very tribal. [laughs] I don’t know, I can’t explain it. It looks like adornments.
Yeah, I wonder how differently they would look if they were a different color. Like what if they were black? Beats colors.
The white just gets me, I guess you’re right. I think they look not good. What do you think?
Yeah, see, I agree with you. I think over time they’ve ...
When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you go, “Hey, I look good”?
Well it’s funny, when I first tried them I took a selfie and I sent it to my mom. I said, you know, “Mom, look, I’m trying the new AirPods,” and she said, “Oh my goodness, they look wonderful,” or something like that. And I determined right then and there that moms are not a good litmus test for anything you might try because they think everything looks wonderful. [KS laughs] They’re like, “Oh my gosh you look so great,” and like I was like, “I love you, Mom, but I don’t think they look cool.”
All right. @KevinBelby: “Will I lose them?” Talk about the case. That’s another issue that I was worried about: Losing them.
So if you are leaving your AirPods lying around just as the AirPods themselves, I would say you have a very good chance of losing them. They’re tiny and they’re light.
They don’t go in your pocket, you can’t really put them in your pocket. Like I stick a lot of stuff in my pocket.
Yeah, you’re going to lose them. If you stick them in your pocket they’re going to end up in the toilet or something, I don’t know, you’re going to lose them.
Or break them.
The case makes this a lot better. The charging case is actually pretty nifty. It looks like a little dental floss case, a lot of people have said this and it is true, but if you remember to take your AirPods off and then put them in that little charging case every time, I think there’s less likelihood you’re going to lose that. Although you could still lose the charging case. I mean, it’s small.
The whole thing has so much going on.
So far I’ve had, knock on wood, I’ve not lost mine yet.
You’re a little obsessive-compulsive, so you’re careful with all your things. I’d lose them in one second.
I just put them in the same pocket in my gym bag every morning. Well, I say every morning as though I’ve been going. I haven’t gone out in like three days. But I put them in the same place in my gym bag and that’s just the best way to do it. And they get charged at the same time, it’s a pretty nifty solution.
Yeah. I would never get them for teens. I’d rather just throw $160 at my son because ... and just keep throwing it at him because I think for teens they aren’t careful with things. These are adults’ earphones.
You can replace these if you lose one. You can buy one for $70 I believe. No, $69. I remember this because the collective internet was making jokes about the price because we’re all mature. And so you can replace one but if you get to the point where you’re thinking, okay, well, I’m going to game the system and replace two, just buy two separate ones for $140 total, you’re not going to get the charging case with that. So you still need the charging case.
I see. All right. So let’s get through this, we’ve got tons more. Neetan Gupta, @NeedingGupta2. “Is it possible to fast-forward to the next song while listening to music using AirPods? I mean without touching the phone.”
Without touching the phone there’s only really one way to do it. No, there are two ways to do it. The first way is to say, “Hey Siri,” or tap on the AirPod twice and it pulls up Siri and then you can say, “Next song” or “Skip song.”
So you can do it via voice control but it does require a little bit of interaction. Or if you’re a really big Apple fanboy and you’re into the Apple ecosystem and if you have an Apple Watch, you can do it that way. Tap on your Apple Watch if you’re playing music from that.
Oh my God, it seems complicated. All right, so no, really. Not easily. Andre Moore, @AndersMoore. “Do you worry about sweat breaking them? That’s my main concern. They fit in my ears great.”
Personally, no. But for people who sweat a lot I’d say that you should have the same level of concern that would for most other earphones, headphones. You know, eventually ...
You’re not a sweater?
… the sweat could sort of corrode the product overtime. But it would take a lot to do that. And some are more sweatproof than others.
They did sweat tests, I bet they did sweat tests. All right, David Lindsay, @RetProf77: “Why in the world can’t Apple make enough of these devices so you could actually buy one?” I’m doing that in an indignant tone. Why?
Yeah, come on! David, if I knew it would be on the website in a story because I wish I knew. What the heck is going on?
What the heck?
Why is it going to take six weeks for Casey Newton to get his AirPods?
Oh, poor Casey.
I don’t know. There could be an issue in terms of just measuring demand, having estimated how much demand there was going to be for these. It could be that those technical issues that possibly were present early on are still something that requires extra QA and testing. And so that has delayed things.
She doesn’t know.
It could be the fact that they’re now making this W1 chip and it’s their own chip and they’re making it, like it could be something that takes more time. I honestly don’t know, these are all guesses.
We don’t know. Just guesses. All right, @ApeDregar: “How do you feel about now having to charge your phone and your earphones?” How do you feel about that, Lauren?
You know what, charging an Apple Watch bothers me more. In my review experiences. Charging a little charging case, I maybe charge that once a week because I use the AirPods for a little while at the gym and then maybe make a couple phone calls. They last for five consecutive hours and the charging case adds 24 hours of battery life to that.
All right, so not a big pain.
So you don’t have to charge it all that much.
All right. @BenFord: “How easy is it to swap the AirPods between devices such as an iPad, iPhone and non Apple devices?” Easy?
My experience earlier was between iPhones because I did switch it between iPhones at one point. It was fine. It was fast. All that. Between my iPhone and Mac and iPhone and Apple TV, personally I’ve still had to go into a drop-down menu and find Bluetooth and connect and do that.
It’s funny because I was talking to my colleague Dieter Bohn about this. We’ve both used the Google Pixel phone, which is Google’s own phone, and we were talking about pairing the AirPods with Google phone. That still requires going into a Bluetooth menu on an Android device and looking for the AirPods and hitting connect and all that, but still pretty fast, I have to say.
Okay. All right, good.
So that’s good.
It’s easy. At least that’s a good part about it. All right, Jonathan Tanzer @JTanzer. “Do the W1 chip benefits, pairing, extra reliable connection, power efficiency, work on older Apple devices?”
The oldest Apple device I’ve been able to try it on is a late 2012 MacBook Pro running the newest operating system. And so I guess if you mean like the W1 chip benefits of the automatic pairing, no as I just explained that’s not really working for me on my Mac. But in terms of just pairing and in general, it’s fine. Once they’re paired to the Mac they’re fine. People ask a lot about signal dropout.
Yeah, it does. I think it has more to do with the phone sometimes. @KennethChao. “Are there comfortable and affordable accessories to help keep them in your ears? If so, price?”
There are a ton.
A strap ...
There are a ton of people that are pitching this.
These little $10 cords, or cables that have these little caps at the end of them and the caps, you plug the AirPods into the caps and then you can wear them around your neck and stuff like that.
It’s just kind of funny, and I want to try these. I do. And I’m going to. And they’re cheap, right? But it’s funny because if you’re going to do that, like just get a pair of wired, wireless headphones. Just get the pair that go around the back of your neck or whatever.
Yeah, that’s a really good point. I can’t believe it, how much do those cost? What does that thing cost? They’re like ear anchors, what are they calling them? Not anchors, like, you know, you put on glasses to hold them on, that kind of thing.
Yeah. It’s like the equivalent of that for AirPods.
It seems silly.
I guess they could be cool because you’re still going to get the pairing capabilities of the AirPods but with a string attached to them. But I don’t know.
I’m going no on those. [LG laughs] All right, this is a good one for you. From Ryan @ChawRyan. “Does having long hair make it any better or worse to wear AirPods?” Lauren who has long hair, long luxurious hair, can you hide them? Or do they just stick out no matter what?
Oh well thank you for that lovely compliment. It’s better and worse. It’s better because if you don’t like the looks of them you can hide them. Or if you’re worried about, you know, someone ripping them out of your ears, God forbid, you can hide that you’re wearing them. But worse because if you touch your hair or fiddle with your hair more or you’re about to go put it in a ponytail or something like that, I would say you’re at risk of knocking them out of your ears.
Although the only time I’ve actually knocked them out of my ears so far was when I was pulling a sweatshirt off.
You left them in pulling off a sweatshirt. That’s a risky move. I wouldn’t have done that.
Risky move. Bold move.
Long hair, don’t care, that’s what she is.
It’s a bold strategy.
Long hair is both an asset and a negative. All right. This is Poi ... I’m not even going to read his at something or other. “How do you think the AirPods design will change in the future, and what about future features that might be added?” That’s a good question.
Yeah. Poi’s handle is @OSXUser, so I think that Poi uses OSX.
I think the design, I would not be surprised if they shrunk in size a little bit. Maybe that’s just my ...
Will they let go of the pointy little edge thing that comes down? The little dongle.
No more cigarette sticks. It’s 2017, people.
They’re not that thick, they’re more like toothpicks in a way, right? They’re not quite cigarettes.
Yeah. Yeah, they’re more like ... who was it that wrote that terrible Medium post and called them sex sticks? I don’t even know.
Don’t even go there. Anyway, will those be gone? Because if they were gone I might consider them. Remember the movie “Her”? He had that thing, it just went in his ear.
If it was like that I’d be very pleased.
I think we could get there.
Can we? Are you just making that up?
So there are other companies that are doing this. They’re like little bulbs. They’re tiny little things you just put in your ears and they don’t have the extended end. But then, for example, I think the Samsung Icon X’s battery life is much shorter. So there are tradeoffs still but I wouldn’t be surprised if they got smaller.
I do wonder, I don’t know this, but I wonder if volume control is something that could possibly be added to these in the future somehow, because right now you can’t control the volume from them. You still have to go to your phone or your device.
You can’t do anything with them. You have to talk to them to say, “Volume up,” kind of thing, right?
I don’t know if that works, I should try that. “Siri, raise volume.” Or, “Siri, volume up.” You have to do it with your Siri.
I don’t know. But some of the headphones I tried before actually have touch-sensitive buds. So if you have a bud in your ear and then you were to like, let’s say, swipe up or something, it would raise the volume.
All right, this is our last question, from Benoit Amoren. “Do you consider the AirPods a must-buy or not?” Does it improve your everyday life, Lauren? Does it? Are you better off for having the earpods sticking our of your ears? [LG laughs]
If we were to try a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid I’m not sure I’d put AirPods as the foundation.
Yeah, but some things are a must-buy. My iPhone is a must-buy. Is it a must-buy?
No, they’re not a must-buy like your iPhone. And I’d say the same thing about a lot of wearables. I mean, these are wearables, right, you wear them on your body. But like a lot of wrist wearables I’d say the same thing. They’re not a must-buy. For certain power users they’re good. If you’re using them for a specific application — for example, I really like the AirPods at the gym — but I find that when I’m at work and a phone call comes in and I have to grab my phone and run into a room really quickly to take a phone call, a lot of times I end of using my wired headphones, right?
Wired headphones, those are easier.
Or I just stick my wired headphones into the side of my MacBook Pro which has all of it’s wonderful ports.
So not a must-buy.
So no, they’re not a must-have, I would say.
Okay, can I make a list for you very quickly? Okay, iPhone is a must-buy, obviously, right? Apple Watch.
Are you making the list? Or are you saying must-buy?
I’m just saying, must-buy or not, I’m going to put it on a list and then you rank them. Apple Watch, is that a must-buy?
More than these. So between AirPods and Apple Watch, which one would you buy first?
AirPods, okay. What about between this and a wireless speaker?
What can the wireless speaker do? If you’re talking about a crappy commoditized Bluetooth speaker ...
No, like a decent one that they sell in the Apple stores.
I would put that higher. I would say the iPhone is the ultimate mobile device for when you’re on the go and a good wireless speaker or smart home assistant is quickly becoming something you need in the home.
So this is you want it, you seem to be using it just for working out. That’s pretty much it. Right?
Yeah. But I also use them, I’d say I use them for working out, so before work, and then I use them when I’m home in the evening and I’m doing stuff around the house but I also want to make phone calls or listen to music and not bother the neighbors. So yeah, it’s interesting. But at work a lot I use my wired headphones still. And actually I look around the office and a lot of people still do. They put like big cans on their ears because they don’t want to be bothered.
That’s right. That’s Casey Newton, in case you’re interested.
Yes, they do do that. And so I’d say right now you’re saying, “I like this relationship but I’m not totally convinced. It’s complicated.”
Yeah, yeah. I don’t want to play the marry, kill or you-know-what game, but I think we all know we’d marry our smartphones. Right?
Mhmm, and this one? [LG laughs]
All right, on that note, [laughter] this has been another great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.