Why Apple AirPods Took "Courage" to Develop

"It betters all of us."

Getty Images / Stephen Lam

Apple has revealed its vision for the future of music: AirPods.

The wireless earbuds, which were announced during today’s “Special Event” in San Francisco, come with a new W1 chip that detects when they are placed in your ears and automatically turn on as soon as you want to listen to something.

They’re able to operate for five hours on a single charge, and its battery pack offers another 24 hours of power, so they shouldn’t run out of power all that often. They cost $159 and will be available in October.

AirPods can be connected to the iPhone 7 or Apple Watch by simply opening their battery pack next to those devices. That’s good, because their announcement was accompanied with the confirmation that Apple won’t include a headphone jack on the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus — those new phones will come with wired headphones you connect with the much-maligned Lightning cable.

So, if you want to listen to music and charge your phone simultaneously, you’ll have to pony up for the Airpods, because the single Lightning cable port can’t accept two cords.

Here’s how you pair the AirPods with your iPhone:

Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller said the decision to ditch the headphone jack wasn’t about a wireless future. It was about, essentially, being brave, he said.

“The courage to move on, do something new, that betters all of us,” he told assembled Apple employees and journalists at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

On its website, Apple describes the Airpods as downright magical:

“AirPods are simple and magical to use, with no switches or buttons, and let you access Siri with just a double tap.”

On Thursday, Schiller adopted a pioneering message:

“Up until now, no one has taken the challenge of delivering audio experience wirelessly between mobile device and headphones that takes advantage of opportunities to do something new and do something great,” he said today. “And up until now no one has taken on the challenge of fixing the things that are difficult with those wireless experiences that makes it easier to enjoy them.”

The iPhone 7 is up for preorder on September 9 and ships September 16. If you have traditional headphones that need a 3.5mm jack, Apple also will sell this lightning-to-mini-phono adapter.

Here’s the official Apple promotional video, “Introducing AirPods”:

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