Apple has today announced a brand new product that many had initially speculated would ship as part of the contents of the iPhone 7 retail box.
Carrying on from the speculation and conjecture about how Apple will handle music after the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, Phil Schiller announced on stage a set of truly wireless Apple AirPods that are designed to complement the iPhone 7 range for those who are willing to pay a little more for that extra luxury. Yes, these are not shipped as part of the iPhone 7/7 Plus package.
As you can probably tell from the name, the newly announced Apple AirPods are essentially a side-by-side evolution of the existing EarPods hardware, which have also been updated to handle audio via the Lightning port on the iPhone 7 and are included in every iPhone 7 retail box. As part of the feature set of AirPods, Apple has bundled in the capability for the new AirPods to automatically switch between playing music on an iPhone and Apple Watch, removing any real input required by the user.
All the user needs to do is flip open the AirPods’ charging case and the iPhone will prompt you to connect to the AirPods to begin transmitting audio in a wireless manner. They also work with Macs, iPads, older iOS devices and theoretically with Apple TV as well. The technology within the hardware also allows additional functionality, such as background noise removal and cancellation via built-in beam forming microphones, and the ability to double tap an AirPods whilst in use to activate Siri on the connected device.
Apple credits all these advancements to the new W1 chip inside the AirPods:
The all new Apple W1 chip enables the groundbreaking innovations in AirPods, with dual optical sensors and accelerometers in each AirPod that work with the W1 chip to detect when AirPods are in your ear, so they only play when you are ready to listen. Simply remove them to automatically pause the music, or just remove one to have a conversation and automatically resume when you put it back.
Purchasers of the AirPods can also expect to get up to five hours of playing time from a full charge on each Pod, while the charging case itself holds a 24 hour charge for the AirPods. Put the AirPods in the case and they’ll start charging wirelessly.
AirPods costs $159 and will be available in late October.
In addition to offering new AirPods, Apple has also announced an update to the Beats range that will utilize the same intelligence and power of the new W1 chip that powers the new AirPods. That range of headphones will be updated with the addition of the Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones, Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones, and a totally new pair of BeatsX Earphones. Apple has also introduced a new wired, low-cost and affordable Beats EP On-Ear Headphones that is presumably designed to appeal to those who don’t want to part with a ton of cash for headphones.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones are priced at $299.95 and available to order right now. The Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones retail for $199.95 but will be available somewhere in fall this year along with the BeatsX Earphones which command a price tag of $149.95. As for the budget friendly Beats EP On-Ear Headphones, it can be yours for $129.95.
Meanwhile the all-new Apple AirPods are being offered as a totally separate product and purchase. Purchasers will also receive a unique charging case that will charge the AirPods, and as mentioned earlier, can expect to pay $159 for the hardware from Apple.com and Apple Stores this coming October. AirPods will require connectivity with a device running iOS 10, watchOS 3, or macOS Sierra.
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