Wednesday Sep 7, 2016 to Present
WorldwideAirPods are wireless Bluetooth earbuds designed by Apple. They were first released on September 7, 2016, with a 2nd generation released in March 2019. They are Apple's entry-level wireless headphones, sold alongside the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. Within two years, they became Apple's most popular accessory, notable for their critical success and viral sensationalism.
Apple announced the 1st generation AirPods on September 7, 2016, at an Apple Special Event alongside the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. Apple originally planned to release the AirPods in late October but delayed the release date.
It was found out that the AirPods contain a proprietary Apple W1 SoC processor which helps optimize battery use as well as the Bluetooth 4.2 and audio connections. The advanced connectivity functions of the W1 requires devices running iOS 10, macOS Sierra, watchOS 3, or later. They can also function as standard Bluetooth headphones when connected to any device that supports Bluetooth 4.0 or higher, including Windows laptops and Android devices. There are two microphones inside each AirPod, one facing outward at ear level and another at the bottom of the stem. Each AirPod weighs 0.14 oz (4 g), and its charging case weighs 1.34 oz (38 g). The AirPods are capable of holding a charge of around five hours. Charging them for fifteen minutes in the case gives three hours of listening time. The charging case provides 24 hours of total usage time. During a complete dismantling, each AirPod was found to contain a 93 milliwatt hour battery in its stem, while the charging case contains a 1.52-watt-hour or 398 mAh at 3.81 V battery. The model numbers for the 1st generation AirPods are A1523 and A1722.
For an additional price, the new Wireless Charging Case could be bundled with the AirPods, which can be used with Qi chargers. The Wireless Charging Case can be purchased separately and is compatible with 1st generation AirPods. It moves the charging indicator LED to the exterior of the case. The Wireless Charging Case was initially announced in September 2017 alongside the AirPower charging mat but was delayed by AirPower's protracted development and eventual cancellation.
Apple announced the 2nd generation AirPods on March 20, 2019. They are the same design as the first generation but have updated features. They include an H1 processor which supports hands-free "Hey Siri", Bluetooth 5 connectivity. Apple also claims 50% more talk time and faster device connection times. The "Announce Messages with Siri” feature was added in iOS 13.2, which allows the user to dictate text messages to Siri.
Apple announced AirPods Pro on October 28, 2019, and released them two days later on October 30, 2019. They include features of standard AirPods, such as a microphone that filters out background noise, accelerometers and optical sensors that can detect presses on the stem and in-ear placement, and automatic pausing when they are taken out of the ears. Control by tapping is replaced by pressing a force sensor on the stems. They are rated IPX4 for water resistance.
AirPods Pro was released in late-2019 and feature Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) as well as Transparency mode, which uses the AirPods’ exterior microphones to amplify the sound of the outside world into the user’s ears rather than cancel it.
Analysts estimate AirPods make up 60% of the global wireless headphone market and that Apple’s entire Wearables products (Apple Watch, AirPods, and AirPods Pro) “is now bigger than 60% of the companies in the Fortune 500”. An estimated 5-7% of Apple's revenue from AirPods comes from replacement earbuds and cases.
Apple announced AirPods Max on December 8, 2020, via a website refresh, and released them on December 15, 2020. AirPods Max features an over-ear headphone design. They use the H1 chip, which is also found in the second-generation AirPods and AirPods Pro. AirPods Max, like the AirPods Pro, comes with Apple's Active Noise Cancellation technology for blocking outside noise, and Transparency mode for listening to sounds around you. The "Digital Crown", similar to that of the Apple Watch, allows users to play or pause audio, control volume, skip tracks, control phone calls, and activate Siri. Proximity sensors automatically detect when they are on a user's head and play or pause audio accordingly. Spatial audio uses built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers to track the movement of the user's head and provide what Apple describes as a "theater-like" experience.
Apple announced the third generation AirPods on October 18, 2021. They feature an external redesign with shorter stems similar to AirPods Pro and use similar pinch controls. They include support for spatial audio and Dolby Atmos, IPX4 water resistance, skin detection, and a case supporting MagSafe charging. Apple claims increased battery life, with AirPods lasting six hours and the charging case providing up to 30 hours.