Right now I'm sitting in a coffee shop. Looking around, there are no fewer than a dozen or so individuals sitting at tables with a laptop or device in front of them. The devices are all different--there are a few Surface Pros, a few MacBook Pros, a couple of iPads, along with laptops from HP and Lenovo. But in at least one way, everyone is the same. Everyone is wearing some kind of earbud.
At least half of those here are sporting the iconic glossy white finish of Apple's AirPods, which isn't a surprise to me. I'm wearing a pair too. I own a few pair of higher-end headphones, including the Bowers & Wilkins P5 and the B&W C5 in-ears. I love them both, but most of the time they stay in their case in favor of the ease and convenience of AirPods.
I don't know if everyone in the coffee shop is working--maybe some are students or are just passing time enjoying a triple-grande-two-pump-caramel-latte. As a remote worker myself, though, I know what it's like to work pretty much wherever I can find Wi-Fi. And as someone who does that on a regular basis, AirPods are easily the best gadget I own.
Then again, they better be, considering that they set me back almost $200, with the wireless charging case.
They sound really good.
No, they don't compete with audiophile-quality over-ear headphones, but they sound really good. Apple has put incredible care into creating what seem like impossibly small listening devices that are something I actually enjoy listening to. Whether I'm playing music, talking on the phone, or video conferencing, the sound is balanced, clear, and plenty loud enough.
They don't block out all the sound.
Sure, noise-canceling headphones are great when you want to block out the world. But honestly, the only time I really need to do that is on a plane. The rest of the time, there's something to be said for a little background noise. This is especially true for remote workers. If you work from home, or from a coffee shop, or on the road, AirPods let in just enough noise to keep you engaged with your surroundings.
If you really need to shut out the world, these aren't your best bet. In that case, you're better off with a noise-canceling option like the Bose QuietControl 30.
They're simple to switch between devices.
I often write from my iPad Pro while listening to music streaming from my phone, or even my Apple Watch. Sometimes I'll switch to my laptop for a video call, and then back to my iPad for a presentation, and AirPods are ridiculously good at seamlessly switching between devices. It just works. I know that's not a technical explanation, but the reality is that Apple has, more than any other company, figured this out with its W1 and H1 chips, which handle Bluetooth pairing.
They last long enough and charging them is beyond simple.
There are certainly wireless earbuds and headphones with better battery life. The small form factor of AirPods means they'll never win the endurance race, but the reality is, that's not their race. AirPods last up to five hours, and the storage case packs another 24 hours of charge. And since I can use them one at a time, I can swap them out when one battery wears low.
When you're working on the go, it's nice to know that you don't have to worry about not having enough charge for the next important phone call or zone-out playlist.
They have Siri support.
Now AirPods 2 have "Hey Siri" support, meaning you can interact with Apple's voice assistant without having to reach for your phone, or tapping your earbuds. This was one of the only drawbacks of the original version, and the update means that you can easily initiate phone calls, change playlists, adjust the volume, or set reminders and calendar events using only your voice. It may not seem like a big deal, but try it while running through an airport with your hands full, and you know why it's a life-saver.
They fit in your pocket.
The best technology is what fits into your life, and AirPods fit, literally, in your pocket. I don't know how Apple manages to get all of that engineering into such a small form factor, but it makes them the easiest to take with you wherever you go. In the car, on a plane, at a coffee shop, or anywhere. The small case is basically half the size of a credit card, and easily fits in your purse, your laptop bag, or even in the small pocket in your jeans. You can't say that about any other current wireless earbud.