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  • AirPods unboxed: Apple's other new wearable of the future

    So I've been playing with mine for a day now (purchased from Selfridges in London at 9am this morning) and here are my observations:
    - sound quality: seems to be at least as good, possibly even slightly better than EarPods. Absolutely no complaints here and no sign at all of sound ever being out of sync between the individual pods
    - they fit reassuring well into my ears at least. Again, at least as well and possibly slightly better than my regular EarPods.
    - the charging case feels solid and opens with a nice click. The AirPods themselves are slightly trickier to remove from the case than you might imagine, perhaps partially because they are held in by magnets. It's also not obvious which way they go back in... a bit like old USB, it feels like a 50/50 proposition whether you put the first AirPod in the left or right slot
    - it feels remarkably freeing to not have cables dangling and getting caught up in either my jacket zipper, coat collar, over the shoulder bag etc
    - I did manage to knock one out of my ear once as I removed my over the shoulder bag... need to be careful of this
    - because there is no fast, physical way to pause audio, I've quickly learned to simply remove one AirPod whenever someone talks to me - this pauses audio automatically and works very well
    - it remains absolutely stunning to me that there is no physical volume control. I assumed that adjusting the volume via Siri would be a nightmare, and frankly it is even worse than I imagined. After attempting this several times, I will basically never bother trying to do this again. Apart from the sheer amount of time it takes (Find body of AirPod in ear with finger - actually much harder to do than it sounds; double tap on body of AirPod, music stops, wait for Siri to activate on iPhone, say "Reduce volume", wait for music to restart), there is also no way I can see to fine tune the volume increment meaning the outcome is never actually the volume level I really want. It's astonishingly poorly thought through. Blessedly, I have an Apple Watch, and so with the podcasts app running in the dock on my Apple Watch I can adjust the volume using my Digital Crown. Otherwise, you will be reaching for your iPhone in your pocket or bag. Why AirPods don't use the same approach as the Withings Aura which allows volume adjustment via an up or down swipe on a plastic material is beyond me - this would make these basically perfect. Oh well, maybe version 2.
    - where Siri does work much better is if I have the AirPods in my ears but I am not actually listening to anything... if I simple say "Hey Siri", I get the familiar chime and Siri can let me know the temperature, answer questions etc... this feels quite futuristic.
    - tomorrow morning in the gym I will try running them directly from my Apple Watch whilst leaving my iPhone at home - something I've been looking forward to doing since they were announced.
    - all in all, the most excited I've been about a new Apple product since the launch of the iPad. If they fixed the volume thing they'd be close to perfect.