is ready to challenge Apple with a cheaper, Alexa-powered set of wireless earbuds. If successful, it would carve out a space for the popular digital assistant, and its deep connections to the rest of Amazon’s ecosystem, in the mobile world Amazon has hitherto largely failed to penetrate. But that’s a big if. details the upcoming hardware, which sounds a lot like AirPods (and the handful of other wireless sets that have appeared): a pair of small wireless in-ear buds, a case that doubles as a charger and built-in controls and a mic so you can control your music, talk to friends and ask Alexa things on the go. Of course, the obvious question is how exactly this will work, given that AirPods have special privileges as first-party hardware that let them perform tasks others can’t yet do. If your phone is locked, non-AirPod headphones (for instance Galaxy Buds) can’t connect through their associated app to look stuff up or provide services. You can of course , but that’s a bit sad. Bloomberg’s report says that the Alexa headphones let you “order goods, access music, weather and other information,” but it isn’t clear under what circumstances. If you have to have the phone unlocked and an app open for it to work, the whole thing is a non-starter. And it seems unlikely that Apple would grant Amazon some kind of clearance to do the kind of things only AirPods can do. It’s conceivable that the headphones will, when possible, connect instead on detection of a command to a compatible Alexa device nearby with an internet connection — and there’s no shortage of those in many a tech-savvy home. But if you’re walking down the street and need to ask directions, you may have to pull the phone out, which rather negates the already somewhat limited convenience of owning a pair of wireless headphones. These difficulties, plus those associated with simply making such a sophisticated piece of hardware for relatively cheap, explain why the headphones have reportedly had a bit of trouble getting shipped. A cheaper price tag and potentially better audio quality may not be enough to make this particular endeavor a winner, but we’ll know more if and when Amazon goes official.
“Works with AirPower mat”. Apparently not. Looks like Apple doesn’t treat customers with the same “high standard” of care it apparently reserves for its hardware quality. 9 days after launching its headphones touting compatibility with the forthcoming Apple AirPower inductive charger mat, . It’s an uncharacteristically sloppy move for the “it just works” company. This time it didn’t. Apple clearly knew AirPower was borked before launching the new AirPods wireless charging case on March 20th. Failing to be transparent about that is an abuse of customer trust. That’s especially damaging for a company constantly asking us to pre-order new products and that’s known for planned obsolescence. It should really find some way to make it up to people, especially given it has $245 billion in cash on hand. . “After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering in an emailed statement today. That comes as a pretty sour surprise for people who bought the $199 wireless charging AirPods that mention AirPower compatability or the $79 standalone charging case with a full-on diagram of how to use AirPower drawn on the box. Apple first announced the saying it would arrive the next year along with a wireless charging case for AirPods. But when the new AirPods launched March 20th with no mention of AirPower in the press release, suspicions mounted. Now we know Apple was concerned about devices overheating, so it decided not to ship what could become the next Galaxy Note 7 fire hazard. The new AirPods with wireless charging case even had a diagram of AirPower on the box. Image via There are plenty of other charging mats that work with AirPods, and maybe Apple will release a future iPhone or MacBook that can wireleslly pass power to the pods. But anyone hoping to avoid janky third-party brands and keep it in the Apple family is out of luck for now. Luckily, some who bought the new AirPods with wireless charging case are still eligible for a refund. But if you got yours personalized with an engraving (I had my phone number laser-etched on since I constantly lose them), there are no refunds allowed. And then there are all the people who bought Apple Watches, or iPhone 8 or later models who were anxiously awaiting AirPower. We’ve asked Apple if it will grant any return exceptions. Combined with the on new MacBooks and where it announced Apple Card, TV+, and Arcade despite them being months from launch, the world’s cash-richest company looks like a mess. Apple risks looking us unreliable as Android if it can’t get its act together.
has just announced the second-generation AirPods. The new AirPods are fitted with the H1 chip, which is meant to offer performance efficiencies, faster connect times between the pods and your devices, and the ability to ask for Siri hands-free with the “Hey Siri” command. Because of its performance efficiency, the H1 chip also allows for the AirPods to offer 50 percent more talk time using the headphones. Switching between devices is 2x faster than the previous generation AirPods, according to Apple. Here’s what Phil Schiller had to say in the : AirPods delivered a magical wireless experience and have become one of the most beloved products we’ve ever made. They connect easily with all of your devices, and provide crystal clear sound and intuitive, innovative control of your music and audio. The world’s best wireless headphones just got even better with the new AirPods. They are powered by the new Apple-designed H1 chip which brings an extra hour of talk time, faster connections, hands-free ‘Hey Siri’ and the convenience of a new wireless battery case. The second-gen AirPods are available with the standard wired charging case ($159), or a new Wireless Charging Case ($199). A standalone wireless charging case is also available for purchase to $79. We’ve reached out to Apple to ask if the wireless case is backwards compatible with first-gen AirPods and will update the post once we know more. Update: Turns out, the wireless charging case works “with all generations of AirPods,” according to the . It appears that older models are still for sale, as well. Two times faster switching and 50 percent more talk time might sound like small perks for a relatively expensive accessory, but I’ve found that one of my biggest pain points with the AirPods are the lack of voice control and the time it takes to switch devices. The introduction of “Hey Siri” alongside the new H1 chip, as well as much faster switching between devices, should noticeably elevate the user experience with these new AirPods. After a search through the Apple website, it appears that old AirPods are no longer available for sale. The new Airpods are available to order today from Apple.com and the Apple Store app, with in-store availability beginning next week.