Apple’s tiny, totally wireless AirPods get meticulously torn down

After having been delayed for months — for reasons never publicly confirmed, no less — Apple’s AirPods are finally here. And really, what better to way to celebrate one of the most curious delays in Apple history than by tearing those things apart? The folks at iFixit have done just that (as always), and the end result is a fascinating look at $ 160 worth of meticulously crafted silicon and audio parts. Spoiler alert: there’s more glue in them than you’d think.

As you might imagine, the tiny scale of Apple’s work and all the glue sealing everything in place make the AirPods a nightmare where repairs are concerned. In fact, all the components are so tightly packed in there that the idea of replacing parts or fixing them in general is downright laughable. Still, this kind of surgery does a great job illustrating the insane, compact origami that goes into modern consumer gadgets. And if nothing else, iFixit’s strangely gorgeous imagery more thoroughly explains the importance of the AirPods’ most questionable design choice: those stems that dangle out of your ear.

People stare, but they probably don’t realize that those stems are mostly all battery — their charge capacity works out to 1 percent of the iPhone 7’s — with long antennas glued to them to maintain a strong connection between the Pods themselves and the phone. (For what it’s worth, we’ve had a pair of AirPods for months and the multiple wireless connections were more-or-less rock-solid the entire time.)

Knowing that doesn’t make the stems look any better, though, as evidenced by all the shade thrown at me by coworkers whenever I wear these things. Also nestled deep within there is what makes the AirPods really tick: the minuscule W1 chip. It’s responsible for the Pods’ dead-simple pairing and power-sipping tendencies, which so far have been the big reasons our review units have seen such consistent use. The level of tension subsides when attention is turned to the AirPods’ charging case, but make no mistake: if you’re a fan of lilliputian tech, this is one teardown you have to see.

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Apple’s AirPods won’t be ready for the holidays

Apple announced the AirPods during September’s “See You” event with a scheduled launch at the end of October. But late that month, the company delayed shipments without setting a release date in the future. Well, the tech titan’s wireless headphones still haven’t come out and it’s unclear when they’ll finally be ready for the public. For a company that places enormous emphasis on the pageantry of dramatically unveiling and releasing its products to a ravenous public, this is an unusual and humbling letdown.

It’s the first product postponement since the white iPhone 4 back in 2010, which Apple claims was delayed due to manufacturing challenges. But the company has kept mum about why they’re withholding the AirPods from store shelves. It’s likely caused by their added complexity, a source familiar with their development told The Wall Street Journal. Unlike normal wireless headphones, which receive signal over Bluetooth in only one earpiece, both AirPod pieces do. That means Apple’s product must reconcile any delays and sync audio between them, while also addressing what happens if one of the pair’s battery dies or is lost.

Apple’s silence is tough luck for folks hoping to snag a pair for a Christmas gift. But as we noted when the AirPods were first delayed, their iPhone 7-interfacing W1 chip is present in two models of Beats headphones, the Solo3 and Powerbeats 3. Otherwise, Apple’s loss is their competitors’ gain: Wireless headphones finally outsold wired in the first half of 2016. Technically, people are still buying more pairs of wired ones, but Bluetooth headphones’ high prices mean the money has finally tipped into that camp. Just how much Apple lost out by failing to make its $ 160-per-unit AirPods available this holiday season is anyone’s guess.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Apple’s renewed fight against AIDS includes new iPhone cases

Apple has made a tradition of marking World AIDS Day with a campaign to donate to the Product (RED) charity, and it’s going the extra mile for its 10th year of support. On top of the company’s existing (RED) gear (which sends a contribution to the Global Fund’s fight against AIDS), it’s launching four new accessories and devices that count toward the charity. You can get red versions of the iPhone 7 Battery Case, the leather iPhone SE case, Beats Solo 3 Wireless headphones and the Beats Pill+ wireless speaker. All of these are available today, and there are other ways to help out even if you have no intentions of buying hardware.

To begin with, purchasing anything at an Apple store (physical or online) through Apple Pay between now and December 6th will donate $ 1 toward (RED), up to a maximum of $ 1 million. Bank of America will match those donations if you buy using one of its cards. You can also buy an album from The Killers (Don’t Waste Your Wishes) on iTunes with all US proceeds heading to the fund. Beyond this, in-app purchases in 20 high-profile iOS games (including Angry Birds 2, Clash of Clans and PewDiePie’s Tuber Simulator) will contribute to the anti-AIDS campaign through December 7th.

These individual efforts may seem like drops in the bucket, but Apple has historically been one of Product (RED)’s strongest contributors — it had raised $ 65 million by 2013. And while a bona fide cure is still years away, the United Nations now believes that you could realistically see the end of AIDS by 2030. You may only make a small difference by yourself, but the combined effort adds up.

Source: Apple (1), (2)

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Bragi’s ‘Headphone’ takes on Apple’s AirPods

Almost three years ago, Bragi left an indelible mark on the headphone universe. The then-unknown company launched a pair of “truly” wireless headphones on Kickstarter that not only cut every wire, but boasted a slew of fitness-tracking features, all wrapped in a superslick design.

Bragi delivered on its promise, releasing the Dash this summer, but with a few compromises. The fitness features weren’t comprehensive enough to be valuable, the microphone wasn’t great, and even basic connectivity with phones wasn’t very stable. You can’t have bleeding edge without a few cuts, though, right?

Enter “the Headphone.” These $ 149 buds look a lot like the Dash, but are a much simpler proposition. The Headphone drops nearly all the smart features, and the result is arguably the product Bragi should have launched originally: a solid pair of truly wireless headphones. The Dash was definitely an impressive opening act, though, and perhaps necessary to earn the company the gravitas to be taken seriously.

The very first thing I noticed about the Headphone is that the build feels cheap compared to the Dash. The Headphone comes in a light plastic case — not a cold, weighty metal one this time. There’s no battery in that case either; it just serves as a charging cradle (and case, obviously). The Dash’s smooth, touch-sensitive controls have been replaced by physical buttons on the right bud. There’s also no app connectivity with the Headphone, and no onboard storage for music. So why bother? Well, there’s at least three very good reasons: connectivity, battery life and price.

Bragi defined the truly wireless headphones category, and many competitors soon emerged. Remarkably, all of them — almost without exception — suffered some form of connectivity hiccup. This could be between the buds themselves, or between the headphones and your phone when outside (an issue with the Dash). Some cheaper products presented both problems.

With the Headphone, connectivity issues have vanished — even outside walking with your phone deep in your pocket. The Dash is very sensitive, and if you have your phone in the wrong pocket, music would suffer dropouts. With the Headphone, I’ve had the odd minor glitch while turning my head to look for traffic crossing a road, with the phone in the opposite pocket.

The audio connectivity isn’t just better than the Dash; it’s better than any “truly” wireless buds I’ve tried (Erato’s Apollo 7 and Earin, to name a few). Importantly, the Headphone’s buds never lost connection with each other either — a common problem with these products. Best of all, unlike similar headsets, Bragi didn’t use a design with something hanging out of your ears (looking at you, AirPods) to help ensure good connectivity. Like the Dash, the Headphone sits flush in your ear, making them much more inconspicuous.

One downside to the physical buttons is that they require quite a push to register a click, so you’re basically mashing the earbud into your ear each time, which can feel uncomfortable. This mashing effect happens with all three buttons on the right bud. It’s a relatively minor annoyance, as you can always use your phone to control the volume, but it’s something to get used to.

The lack of fitness features on the Headphone isn’t a problem, as there are many other ways to track activity. But I did love the ability to load music onto the Dash and leave my phone at home when going for a run. Not many truly wireless buds offer this — Samsung’s Iconx is one of the others — but it’s a feature that elevates the usefulness of wireless earbuds, especially when music streaming might not be convenient.

A feature the Headphone does have is the “transparency” mode that Bragi helped pioneer. Transparency uses the microphone to blend ambient noise around you (traffic, people talking, etc.) with your music. Handy when you don’t want to stop your music, say when buying a coffee. But also a potential lifesaver for cyclists who gotta have their tunes on the ride to work.

It’s definitely a welcome addition to the Headphone’s relatively basic feature set, but for some reason, the ambient noise doesn’t seem to be quite as audible as it is on the Dash in the same conditions. My doorbell pierces through much less on the Headphone while listening at moderate volume, and sometimes I had to remove a bud to engage in conversation, which is less common with the Dash. Perhaps Bragi reconfigured it the second time around.

More important, music sounds pretty good on the Headphone, but a caveat: Bragi’s press materials told me this might not be the audio profile that will be on retail units. The profile on the model I’m wearing right now is fairly neutral. That’s to say, it’s sounds like there’s less emphasis on the bass and the high midrange frequencies (vocals, melodies, etc.), which are commonly ramped up in consumer headphones.

Again, if we’re comparing to the Dash, I actually prefer the Dash’s audio profile. It feels a little thicker, and has more impact (and a fair bit louder). The Headphone is still a very good listen, and probably more suitable to those who listen to live/acoustic music. My noisy brand of angry dance music just doesn’t feel quite as thumping this time around, though.

The microphone, on the other hand, is less impressive. I rang a number of friends and family and didn’t tell them I was using a hands-free, and nearly everyone asked me where I was calling from in that “you-sound-different” kinda way. I recorded a few tests on my MacBook using the mic on the Headphone, and they ranged from poor to inaudible. You’ll be able to use these to make calls, but it’s not a strong suit.

It might seem like there’s a lot of things lacking in the Headphone, and to a large degree that’s true … if you compare it to the Dash. Pit the Headphone against most of the competition, and suddenly things look rosier. The general connectivity situation is a great step forward for the category. The audio quality is solid (even if the mic is lacking), and the six or so hours of battery life is pretty decent (though a shame there’s no battery in the case).

At $ 149, the price undercuts Earin’s lightweight buds by some $ 50, and is (no doubt deliberate) $ 10 less than Apple’s AirPods, which is perhaps the competition Bragi’s really setting its sights on. With a better battery life, decent audio and enough change to buy yourself lunch, the Headphone should appeal to those iPhone 7 owners shopping around for a wireless set. Especially if Bragi can deliver on it’s “November” ship date and beat Apple to market.

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Apple’s Jony Ive helped design a Christmas tree with no lights

Jony Ive and Marc Newson have designed a range of products that have little to do with their work at Apple, but their latest is something… different. They’ve worked with set designer Michael Howells on the Claridge’s Christmas tree for 2016, and it largely lives up to your “if Jony Ive designed this, it would…” stereotypes. Just as your new Mac or iPhone is devoid of ports, there are no conventional tree lights in this hotel display — you’ll see 13-foot light boxes beaming images of snow-covered birches, but the actual tree arrangement is bare. It’s like Ive was sent on a mission to destroy your holiday memories with his signature minimalism.

The collaboration isn’t coming out of the blue: Ive and Newson are “long-time friends” of Claridge’s. And while it’s definitely non-traditional, you will remember it if you wander through the hotel’s lobby in the weeks ahead. However, it’s not about to reassure critics concerned that Ive and Newson are devoting less time than they could to Apple products. Wouldn’t it have been great if they’d poured that energy into something more permanent that you could actually take home?

Via: Gizmodo

Source: Claridge’s

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Here’s Apple’s workaround when your iPhone 7 home button fails

The iPhone 7’s non-moving home button may feel odd at first, but it has its perks… especially if it ever stops working. MacRumors forum goer iwayne has shown that the new iPhone will give you an on-screen home button (along with a warning that you may need repairs) if it thinks the physical key is broken. While that’s not much consolation if your phone needs to be fixed, it does mean that you can keep using your device in a relatively normal way while you’re waiting for your Genius Bar appointment.

The technology may be short-lived when there are reports of Apple possibly ditching physical home buttons entirely with the next iPhone. However, it’s not hard to see why Apple would push for a motionless button in the short term. It’s not just the customizable haptic feedback — the new design is theoretically less likely to break (since it doesn’t click down) and reduces the pressure to get an immediate fix. That helps Apple’s bottom line, of course, but it may also make you a happier owner in the long term.

The iPhone 7's home button failure warning

Image credit: iwayne, MacRumors Forums

Via: MacRumors

Source: MacRumors Forums

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Apple’s iOS 10 is bricking iPhones

Apple’s iOS 10 just dropped this morning and, less than an hour after launch, the landings haven’t been smooth for everyone. From the get-go, Twitter has lit up with reports of people’s phones (including your humble Engadget contributor) getting bricked or otherwise stuck in the update-restore process.

It appears iPhones weren’t the only devices having trouble with the update, either. As Brianna Wu noted on Twitter, the update has also bricked her iPad Pro.

Apple, for their part, issued a statement saying: “We experienced a brief issue with the software update process, affecting a small number of users during the first hour of availability. The problem was quickly resolved and we apologize to those customers. Anyone who was affected should connect to iTunes to complete the update or contact AppleCare for help.”

Of course, that’s cold comfort for someone still staring down the “Connect to iTunes screen.”

This story is still developing…

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Relive Apple’s iPhone 7 event right here

If you were busy at work yesterday and couldn’t watch Apple’s iPhone 7 stream unfold live, you can fix that. As is tradition, the Cupertino company has uploaded the whole shebang to YouTube so you can relive seeing Shigeru Miyamoto introduce Super Mario Run, VP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller saying that removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 took “courage” and Sia’s end-of-show performance depressing the hell out of (almost) everyone. Don’t have two hours? Well, you could always watch our 15 minute version.

Source: Apple (YouTube)

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Apple’s high-end wireless earbuds may not ship with iPhone 7

The long-rumoured death of the iPhone’s headphone jack has left everybody wondering: What’s going to become of Apple’s EarPods? Well, they’ll probably go wireless, but according to one analyst, they won’t come with your iPhone. They’ll be sold separately — and they might be expensive. KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple will announce a pair of high-end “AirPod” earbuds tomorrow as a premium accessory for iPhone 7 buyers. They won’t come in the box like Apple’s current earbuds, he says, and may not even use Bluetooth.

According to Kuo, Apple may have designed a “Bluetooth-like communications chip” with more strict limits on power consumption. This same low-power chip may also be used to communicate with smart car systems and other home accessories. The Analyst even goes as far as to name Taiwan Semiconductor as the company he believes developed the chip.

So, if Apple’s wireless answer to removing the headphone jack is going to be a premium accessory, what about the average user? Not to worry: Kuo believes the iPhone 7 will bundle in a pair of lighting-connector compatible earbuds or, at bare minimum, a 3.5mm to lighting adapter. Even so, take this report with a grain of salt — Kuo has a strong history of getting these kinds of predictions right, but we won’t know for sure until tomorrow.

Source: Apple Insider, Digital Trends

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What we expect from Apple’s big iPhone event

Apple is holding a big press event next week, and it’s a pretty safe assumption at this point that we’re getting a new iPhone. We’re not expecting a radical reimagining of the device, but there might be a few surprises here (like no headphone jack!) to keep people on their toes. Will we see a new Apple Watch? Maybe. New MacBook Pros? Probably not. A play to repay $ 14.5 billion in back taxes? Keep dreaming. Watch the video above for all the latest on the Apple rumor mill.

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