Airpods (or “Why Should I Pay A Hundred and Sixty Bucks for Wireless Headphones That Will Fall Out Of My Ears”)

Today was Apple’s big Fall 2016 New Product Introduction and Pancake Breakfast Jamboree. As is traditional, we got treats and surprises that are no less welcome for being predictable and indicative of solid – if relatively unremarkable innovation.

The Watch got an update to make it officially waterproof (as opposed to being unofficially waterproof) and it got a GPS chip, a brighter screen, and a faster processor. Great. I love my Apple Watch dearly because it’s an extremely useful adjunct to my iPhone 6 – which on a very practical level is pretty much my default computer these days.

The iPhone 7 was introduced to a public that had known about it for weeks if not months in advance. To be honest, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the specs, so I’m going to play it safe and say that we probably got new colors, a better camera, more powerful processor and more storage. Oh, and a design tweak so that it doesn’t look like the 6s.

Much ballyhoo has been made of the lack of a headphone jack, and I’d really hoped for some nice wireless headphones in the box. Nothing exorbitant; I have a few pairs of cheap Bluetooth headphones that are solid and dependable and have excellent audio quality and battery life. I think they cost me about $15 a pair on special at Amazon. That would have been great. Instead, we got these:

…for $159.

This in itself would be okay with me – after all, there are plenty of fancy bluetooth earbuds out there that are cheerfully in that price range, and these do feature some nice Siri integration and probably sound very nice indeed. Plus, there’s a charging carry case for them that could be very handy. No, what I’m peeved about is what’s missing; to whit – a wire connecting one to the other.

Let me explain. Apple thinks that everyone has a head like this:

Observe, if you will, the classical profile and proportional elegance of the noggin. This model has ears that can cheerfully accommodate the squished grape shape of the Airbuds/Apple Headphones, which are designed to fit snugly into your ear canal without any of those tacky silicone bits that other folks put on the outside. Where this all falls apart is when you’re dealing with people like me, who have enormous, ungainly ears. If I put Apple headphones into my ears I can get about four steps without the things falling out, and the only way I can get them to stay is by corkscrewing them so deep into my ear canal that I run the risk of some kind of internal cranial bleed.

Now, the falling-out-of-your-ear thing is a constant issue, but not really too bad considering that A) my super-cheap earphones have silicone tips which greatly ameliorate the problem and B) they’re joined by a wire so if one falls out then it’s not going to bounce away across the floor never to be seen again. Also, they cost $15. Meanwhile, the AirPods cost ten times as much, and if one of them falls out while I’m running/walking/mucking horses then I’m willing to bet that that’ll be $159 I won’t see again…