In case you happened to somehow miss it, Apple used its September 7th media event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium to introduce a brand new set of wireless AirPods that can communicate directly with an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple Watch, and Mac to transfer sound.
Powered by the company’s revolutionary W1 chip, the AirPods have become an instant “must-have” purchase after Apple removed the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7, but rather than just being a set of wireless headphones, they also represent what is likely to be the beginning of an Apple audio revolution. But what devices are they compatible with?
What was particularly interesting about the AirPods introduction on stage during the event was Apple’s description of how the technology would work, playing on the fact that they are automatically capable of connecting to an iPhone, Apple Watch, or Mac without any user interface or execution of a specific process.
That all sounds great, but also gives the impression that the AirPods are bundled with some kind of Apple-created proprietary protocol that allows that connection to happen without interaction. The truth is, they may have an intelligent chip running the show, but they essentially use Bluetooth to form that connection.
The use of Bluetooth means that the potential application and use of the AirPods is greater than was first thought. When available, Apple’s new headphones will offer compatibility with Mac machines, iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices running iOS 8 or higher, as well as the Apple Watch, Series 1 and 2. That also means that the AirPods will actually work with devices that aren’t produced by Apple, such as Android devices and other smartphones running platforms other than iOS. Of course, there’ll be no automatic connection with those devices like it’s because of W1 chip, with users instead having to pair the AirPods to the device in the old-fashioned method using the pair button on the AirPods case and Bluetooth setting in the software.
It’s great news to know that the AirPods will function as standard Bluetooth-enabled headphones on most devices after being paired, but there is a trade-off in the fact that some of the best features won’t be accessible. As an example, the improved battery life won’t be front and center due to the fact that the integrated W1 chip isn’t working in conjunction with iOS or macOS. Working in collaboration with Apple devices will also offer improved sound quality and access to Siri with a single tap on the Pods.
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