Today, Apple began delivering iPhone 13 models to customers who pre-ordered last Friday for either in-store pickup or home delivery. So, naturally, my Dad and I got up at zero-dark-thirty, pulled out our Apple Store t-shirts, and set out for the Trumbull store.
One of the significant changes of picking up a new iPhone on launch day at an Apple Store is the use of pickup windows. When you place a pre-order for in-store pickup, one of the things that you must do now is to select a 15-minute window to pickup your iPhone. I simply can’t wait for a new iPhone to be delivered, so I get up early to make sure that I get an 8:00am – 8:15am window. Now that everyone has a pickup window, there are practically no lines at the store. This is a vastly difference experience from just a few years ago when the iPhone X launched with a new industrial design and Face ID. The pre-order and standby lines snaked down the hall.
When we arrived at the mall, there was an empty parking lot. Likewise, the hallways were empty and there was no long lines outside the store. My Dad and I were easily the first in line. While waiting for the store to open we chatted up some of the employees. Is this iPhone launch day? Sure is! But thanks to scheduled in-store pickups, there’s no need to get to the store early.
To be honest, this was one of the most subdued iPhone launches in a while. I think that this is mostly due to the use of the pickup windows. For the 8:00am store open, there were only a few people in the standby line. Even without the huge crowds from years past, I was excited to be privileged enough to be there and able to buy a new iPhone. Cell phones are quickly becoming a necessity in our society, however, my year-old iPhone is still in perfect condition and there are only a few reasons why someone would need to upgrade from an iPhone 12, 11, and possibly an iPhone XS. As a long time Apple fan, new iPhone day is my ‘thing’ and so I order a new one very year. I like getting a new iPhone each year because I want all of the new features, specifically the new camera system. And if there are only two headliner features for iPhone 13, it’s the 3x optical zoom on the Pro models and the improved battery life.
My Dad and I worked with Scott to get our iPhones unboxed and setup. Dad used the iCloud backup process. I used the transfer cable option. The transfer cable isn’t a single cable. It is actually a Lightening to USB-A cable connected to a Lightening to Camera adapter. I brought both cables with me. While Scott was right, the iCloud backup/restore process would be ‘quicker’, and my Dad was able to start using his iPhone sooner than me, in the end, it still took about an hour for the data to transfer over my cable and for Dad’s iCloud over-the-air Wi-Fi restore to complete. So, I’m calling it a draw. The lesson that I learned is that for next year, I will likely use the iCloud backup/restore process so I can complete the setup faster and move on to transferring my cellular service over from my ‘old’ iPhone to my shiny new iPhone. To upgrade family members or co-workers, I still think that the cable is the better way to go.
Making a debut appearance at the Apple Store this year was my recently restored Newton MessagePad (OMP). My OG iPhone that has made this trip many times in the past. It was going to be a busy day for the Apple Tea, however, we did manage to get a few minutes for an Apple family photo.
As usual, the staff at the Trumbull Store were fantastic. Scott, Tyler, Mariam, and the rest of the crew working this morning make user we had a great launch day. One the way out, I made sure to stop and talk with the store and district managers to make sure that they knew how happy I was with the service I always get at the store.
Naturally, I’m already looking forward to the next product launch. Hopefully, I will be able to line up for an 11-inch iPad Pro with a Mini LED display.
As an IT pro who is not an active developer, my annual Apple jam is iPhone launch day. (WWDC seems like tons of fun, but it’s hard for me to justify a week in California.) While I am waiting for the glass doors of my local Apple Store to roll back and herald the arrival of this year’s new smartphone, I wanted to bring something to the party that will be fun. In years past, I have used my original iPhone (aka the iPhone 2G – as in the really slow AT&T Edge network iPhone) as my new iPhone reservation check in device.
This year, I thought it would be fun to get the white iPhones out of my museum collection and bring them along when I pick up my new Silver iPhone 11 Pro.
While white/silver iPhones have been indeed popular, and heavily used in Apple’s promotional materials in recent years, other iPhone models and colors have been used as brand ambassadors. For example, the Blue iPhone XR was featured in many hero images. In 2019, the Midnight Green iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max seem to be the new Blue iPhone XR.
Might there be another “Max” device in “Midnight Green” that could crash the party on Friday? Who knows?
I stumble out of bed, trying not to wake up my wife who is sleeping next to me. The bright white light of my iPhone 7 Plus’ screen temporarily blinds me. You might be wondering why am I up this early? “It’s just a phone” never crosses my mind. For me, the new iPhone X represents the new high water mark for what is possible for cutting edge tech gadgets.
Like many of you, as 3:01am eastern time, 12:01am pacific, rolls around, I begin frantically refreshing apple.com and the iOS Apple Store App. (Can we still call the iOS Apple Store app the “Apple Store” app?) The minutes tick by. 3:03am, 04, 05, 06. Double-click Home. Swipe up. Relaunch. Repeat. iPhone. iPad. iMac. If you didn’t know better, you’d think I was having some kind of OCD episode. 3:07am, 3:09, 3:13am. “Come on, Apple! Let’s get going! They’re selling out!” I mutter in frantic hushed tones to myself while hunched over my computer desk.
Finally! 3:15am, and the iOS Apple Store loads. I stab at my iPhone screen trying to get to my Favorites List, which has my iPhone X configuration saved. iPhone X, Space Grey, 256GB. I can’t wait to get my hands on iPhone X. Face ID looks so cool! I can’t wait to try it. The app lags. I confirm my Sprint account details. “Hurry up, already!”
And just like that, things go bad. The Sprint servers crumble under the onslaught that is iPhone X pre-orders. “We’re sorry. This feature is momentarily unavailable. Please try again later. OK.” I force quit the Apple Store app. I try again. No luck. I grab by iPad. The same. Surely, my iMac and Safari can get the job done, but it was more of the same. Noooo!
Clutching my iPhone 7 Plus, I feverishly try again. And, again. And, again, until a new error message appears.
“We are unable to connect at this time. We’re sorry. There was a problem connecting to the carrier’s server. Please try again in a few minutes.”
My hopes of getting an iPhone X on launch day, next Friday, November 3, seemed dashed. It’s 3:55am, and I can’t even get my cellular account verified. Maybe if I just make a cup of coffee and then try everything would be better. Then, at 4:10am, Sprint sounds out a tweet that their servers are being worked on. The Apple website is showing shipping times for iPhone X at 4-5 weeks. Then, 5-6 weeks. I’m crushed.
I get ready for work. I try to keep it all in perspective. I’m freaking out about getting a new cell phone. It’s just a phone. There’s nothing wrong with my current cell phone. Well, nothing, except that it isn’t the super cool iPhone X. “Get it together, Grassia,” I keep telling myself. I say a little prayer to God, thanking Him for all that he has given me. My family. My health. A good job. A roof over our head. These are truly the important things in life.
Still, nothing. In a fit of rage, I tell myself that I’m switching to Verizon. I hate Verizon and AT&T, but their customers have their pre-orders already. Ok, let me check just one more time before I have to go to work.
Success!! The Apple Store app on my iPhone finally is able to validate my Sprint account! I add the Midnight Blue iPhone X Leather Case to my digital shopping bag. Miraculously, the app is showing that iPhone X is still available for in-store pick up. At my preferred store no less – Apple Trumbull! (No disrespect to my friends at Apple New Haven, Stamford, or Danbury!)
Holding my iPhone in my left hand, I poke the Buy with Apple Pay button with so much excitement, I thought my right index finger was going to pierce the screen. A few more taps and a Touch ID thumb print later, my order confirmation screen appears. I’m getting my iPhone X!
I send my Dad an iMessage with my confirmation screen. He was going to place his order this morning too.
“How did you get your order #” was his reply? How?! From the app confirmation screen and email. A quick phone call later and I realize his order didn’t go through. A brief detour for more coffee and I manage to untangle my Dad’s order. Guess what? His Verizon iPhone X is still in stock at Trumbull. Then I realize, we’re both getting our new iPhone Xs on the same day. At the same store, at the same time! It’s time to break out our Apple Trumbull t-shirts for another road trip!
This is craziness, to be sure. It’s an insanely expensive cell phone. An insanely great iPhone, yes. But I wouldn’t have traded the experience with my Dad for anything!
Get ready Apple Trumbull team, that crazy guy and his father well be back again real soon!
Today, Apple started selling the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. My Dad, who has become quite the Apple tech nerd, stopped by the Trumbull Apple Store to check out the iPhone 8 Plus in Space Grey and shared a couple of pictures from in the store. What he didn’t take a picture of was the long line down the hall.
(Whatever you guys do, don’t tell him that I have to pay him a roving freelance reporter fee. I’m going to help him upgrade his other Apple Watch tonight.)
CEO Tim Cook had said that Apple was “doubling down” on security to clamp down on leaks coming out of the company. While visions of the then unreleased iPhone 4 danced in my head, Apple suffered two massive leaks in the run up to today’s fall event. The accidental leaking of the HomePod firmware few weeks ago and the golden master iOS 11 build this past weekend really spilled the beans on many of the surprises that Apple had in store of us. While I am saddened that a lot of surprises were spoiled, I’m hoping for some truly delightful hardware and software announcements.
What follows are my first impressions about the new products and software Apple announced today.
Welcome to Apple Park
The September 2017 event is the first public event to be held at the new Apple Park campus, and the first time products are being unveiled in the new Steve Jobs Theater. From everything I’ve seen so far of Apple Park, the place looks amazing. (But, I’m not sure I would want to work in those wide open spaces.)
It’s a fitting tribute to Steve that “All You Need is Love” by The Beatles is playing while we get some really impressive shots of the new theater. While the facility is impressive, I find it hard to ignore some of the yellow caution tape and orange cones still visible outside.
As the presentation gets underway, we hear Steve Jobs talking about Apple.
Tim opens up the event by saying: “I love hearing his voice. And this inspiring message.”
Damn. I really miss that guy.
One of the things that I really do appreciate about Tim Cook’s Apple is that even on important days like today, he takes time out to call attention to the people who have been impacted by the devastating storms in recent days. In addition to Apple’s corporate donation to bring people relief, Apple is promoting it’s customers — you and me — to make our own contributions via iTunes. If you haven’t already made your contribution, please, do so now.
Just in case you were wondering, and, let’s face it, I was, Apple Park will have a vistor’s center, opening later this year, with a new retail store. I really, I mean, really need to make a trip to One Infinite Loop and now Apple Park also. This new campus really does look impressive.
It has been a long time since we last received a retail update. This is also the first time that we have seen Angela Ahrendts on stage. A lot of folks, myself included, have been wondering when we might see her speaking at an Apple event like this.
Ok…uh, I’m not sure I’m “California” enough to call my local Apple retail establishment a “Town Square”. To me, it’s still the Apple Store. Just for the record, I still prefer MacOS, too. Old habits die hard. All of that said, the designs of the new marque stores and even the remodeled shopping mall locations, like the one I visited not that long ago, are really cool places to shop and play with all of the new toys.
One of these days, I should drop in and stick around for a Today at Apple session. They seem cool and a fun way to learn a new trick about using my Apple gear.
And, I’m happy to hear that the Apple 5th Ave location will get it’s gigantic glass cube back once the space has been fully renovated!
It is just me, or do you thing Apple should do a new coffee table book and wallpaper set of glam shots of their marque stores? I’d love to have these shots on my 5K iMac and MacBook Pro. Ok, I’ll stop now, but I still think that a new coffee table book talking about the history of these places and wallpapers are free ideas for Apple.
Apple Watch Update
Tim’s claim that Apple Watch grew 50% YoY without sales numbers to back it up feels a lot like looking at a Jeff Bezos Amazon Kindle or Alexa growth chart.
Did Tim just say, “This is blow away”? Does Scott Forstall get a royalty for that? Come to think of it, I miss that guy too.
Hey! The Woz is in the building! (Watch the audience pan immediately following the Apple Watch feel good video.)
Jeff Williams takes the stage to give us an update about what’s new in watchOS 4
I’m glad to see the new features of the Apple Watch Heart Rate app. The new elevated heart rate warning feature looks like it is the only reason you need to go out and get a new Watch. With the weather getting colder now, I’m not sure how much more walking I’m going to be doing at night, but come this spring, I might have to retire my original Watch and get a new Series 3 Watch.
Apple watchOS 4 is a free update for all Apple Watch customers on September 19.
So, now Apple Watch Series 3 has cellular service built-in. I’m sure that there are a lot of people who are excited about this. Me? Not so much so. Call me cheap, but I don’t want to give the carriers a dime more than I absolutely have to. My previous Watch Series 3 comment aside, when I do finally get around to upgrading my Watch, I plan on getting a model without cellular.
It is pretty cool that Apple has apparently worked out a deal with the carriers so that your iPhone and Watch share the same phone number. That should make things easier on the reduced UI of the Watch (compared to that of the iPhone UI). It’s also pretty cool that when your Watch is out of range of your iPhone, the Find My Friends location switches from the phone to the watch.
I’m not a subscriber to Apple Music, or any other streaming service, so the Apple Watch + Cellular + Music Streaming thing is completely lost on me. Might be great for you, and that’s totally fine, but I’m giving it a “m’eh”.
Ok, now we’re getting to the fun stuff. All the new tech that’s crammed inside Watch Series 3. I like the fact that Siri can talk now on Series 3. It’s one of the things I miss about using Siri on my Watch verses all of my other Apple devices with Siri.
Well, hello there, W2 chip! And, using the display as the antenna for the wireless radios seems like a cool idea…as long as Apple does’t end up telling us that we’re wearing it wrong.
I’m also glad to hear that Series 2 and Series 3 cases are the same size. That means my collection of bands from my original Watch should still be compatible.
Orders for Apple Watch Series 3 will start on September 15 and goes on sale on September 22.
Apple TV Update
Tim talks a little bit about the major milestones in TV technology. Apple TV 4K is the next obvious step. I don’t watch all that much TV and I don’t have a 4K TV. So, while this is a cool announcement, like Apple Watch + cellular + Music, it’s hard for me to get really excited about this.
Eddie Cue comes out to talk about the specifics of the new Apple TV 4K. Coming from a guy who wears Hawaiian shirts to work on Friday, I’m a little disappointed by the tame shirt Eddie is wearing. But, I digress.
With Apple TV 4K being asked to push all of those HDR pixels around, it’s no wonder why Apple stuffed an iPad Pro A10X Fusion chip in the new Apple TV.
What is cool is that Apple is updating iTunes with 4K movie content as the same price as iTunes HD content. That’s really nice seeing how 4K Blu-ray discs are more expensive than the standard Blu-ray version. 4K content at the same price as HD content on iTunes, I think, will be a driver for people to move from Blu-ray players and discs.
Ok, Eddie, now I’m impressed. Free HD movie upgrades to 4K versions at no additional charge. Honestly, we knew a 4K Apple TV was coming because leaks. I was fully expecting another iTunes Plus moment where people can play the difference between HD and 4K to get the upgrade without having to play full price. It’s nice to see Apple eating the cost on this and not passing it on to customers.
Also I’m glad to hear that the Netflix app, and the it will get here eventually Amazon Prime app will provided 4K steaming support to the Apple TV. Apple needs these two partners providing Apple TV users with 4K content.
I will give you the ThatGameCompany Sky game demo looks pretty cool. I’m still looking for that killer game that will make me use want to play a game on Apple TV rather than my iPad Pro. Sky will be available for Apple TV, iPad, and iPhone this winter.
Apple TV 4K orders start on Friday, September 15 with unit sales starting the following week on September 22.
Tim is just getting back on stage to talk about iPhone. I just had a terrible thought. Please don’t let Tim pull out “One more thing” to introduce D22, the new, expensive iPhone we all have been talking about for the last year and was confirmed by the HomePod firmware leak.
Tim lays it on pretty thick for the non-Apple nerds by going over the last 10 years of iPhone hardware/software innovations. They have come a long way in the last decade.
Phil Schiller comes out to talk about iPhone 8. Yup, 8, as in skipping right over 7s.
While the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus look very similar to the iPhone 6/6s/7 models, the iPhone 8 series sees the return of the glass front and back design last seen on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S from 2010 and 2011. My first iPhone was the 4S. I still have it on my desk. It looks like I will have to keep waiting for the return of the squared off sides like the iPhone 4 and 5 series had.
iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus come in three colors this year: Silver, Space Grey, and new Gold finish. The aluminum antenna bands match the front and back plates. I won’t like, I think that they look nice. If I didn’t already know that there is a third iPhone coming this year, I would be ordering a Space Grey iPhone 8 Plus. It looks really nice.
I’m really glad to see True Tone displays coming to the iPhone. After living with the new 10.5″ iPad Pro for a few months, it really does make the display on the iPhone 7-series look inferior.
The iPhone 8-series will be the first iPhones to feature the new A11 Bionic chip.
That’s a LOT of horsepower for a pocket computer. Let’s face it, these things stopped being just “phones” a long, long time ago.
If you care about mobile photography you need to have an iPhone 8 Plus. Hands down. No question. Full stop.
The new advanced lighting AI feature is really cool. Really cool. Available as a beta feature on the iPhone 8 Plus, the Camera app is able to digitally change the lighting in a photo while you are preparing to take the photo. It is also very cool that you can alter the lighting after the photo is taken. Phil was very clear the point out that this is NOT a photo filter system. This is real-time lighting analysis.
What Apple is able to do with the camera hardware and software for shotting photos, high def video, and AR features is amazing. I have no idea how you go about doing this stuff. Its just like magic.
The iPhone 8-series now supports inductive charging!
The iPhone 8-series now supports inductive charging! I’ve been waiting for this feature since getting my iPhone 4S back in 2011. Finally.
The wireless charging using in the iPhone 8-series is called Qi. Mophie and Belkin received a glancing reference about their charging pads. there’s no mention of an Apple branded charging pad. Yet.
Ok, now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. Apple is only offering iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in two storage capacities: 64GB and 256GB. With the iPhone 7 Plus, I went for the middle, 128GB, which is gone now. That’s good news, I think, because my general impression is that people just need more storage on their phones. My wife’s iPhone 6s is perpetually full. The bad news is that the starting prices are going up, up, and away! iPhone 8 will start at $699, while iPhone 8 Plus will start at $799. Ouch!
Pre-orders for iPhone 8-series starts this Friday, September 15, and go on sale on Friday, September 22. iOS 11, which did not get any stage time, will go live for everyone on Tuesday, September 19.
On more thing…
Oh, Tim. I really don’t know how I feel about this. I remember back to Steve’s keynotes and how excited I got. It was like watching a baseball game where the New York Yankees come from way behind in the bottom of the 9th, against the Red Sox, to win the game. Those were awesome. This doesn’t feel awesome to me. Don’t get me wrong. I get what Tim’s going for, given the accolades at the beginning in Steve’s honor, but this misses the mark, I’m afraid.
“We have great respect for these works and we don’t use them lightly.” Ok, at least there’s that.
Please welcome, the iPhone X.
The iPhone X looks cool. I’m glad that it has a new glass back and a stainless steel frame. It looks amazing. I am having a hard time with the name, thou. X. As in 10. Didn’t Mac OS X just get renamed to macOS? Was it because the X was moving from the Mac to the iPhone? I don’t know. X is cooler than 10, but I think iPhone Edition would have made a better name.
I’m glad that there are only two colors for iPhone X; Space Grey and Silver. I’m not a fan of the Gold/Rose Gold colors. There’s a special place in my heart for (Product) RED devices, and I can see an iPhone X in (Product) RED coming in six months, but for now, yeah, I’m good with Space Grey and Silver. I’m sure that I’ll be ordering the Space Grey model.
iPhone X’s display is call the Super Retina Display, which, of course, brings all the goodies. I am really excited to see this display in person.
Raise to Wake and Tap to Wake are fine features, but I already miss Touch ID and the Home button. That said, I generally like the feel of the new display, notch and all. But the gut reaction is that I would immediately flip the status bar, putting the clock on the right and radio signal and battery indicators on the left.
Face ID = Simple. Nature. Effortless. Thank goodness, Phil didn’t say “courageous”.
I’m not smart enough to understand how a neural engine works, but if Face ID is as easy to use as Touch ID was, I don’t care. Neural engine might as well as been synonymous with “frickin’ awesome”.
Phil also says that Face ID can’t be fooled by photos or professional quality masks. That’s a shot at Samsung. Apple has clearly done their homework with all of the hardware they put into this iPhone. Time will tell if Face ID is any easier to crack than Touch ID or Samsung’s thing, but I’m willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt here. This looks really cool and I can’t wait to get my hands on iPhone X.
C Fed is on stage to demo iOS 11 running on iPhone X!!
Face ID for unlock looks like it is going to be fine. Even when paying for groceries with Apple Pay. The new swipe gestures, I think are going to take some getting used to, after all, we are talking about 10 years of muscle memory, but I think after a few days, it will be fine too.
Cool! Portrait Mode selfies!!
Yeah, my kids don’t need an education. (I’m kidding.) I have all new accessories to buy on top of the crazy expensive iPhone X. AirPower really does look super coo!. #Need. It is going to be a long wait for AirPower to come out “next year.” On the plus side, I don’t have to buy another AirPod charging case now. So there’s that.
Pre-order for iPhone X is October 27 – wha? Over a month away. If I had Animoji now, there might be a soft serve frownie face here.
Ouch again. But I’ve already taken that day off from work.
Here’s the 2017 fall iPhone line up. Obviously, I want all of this stuff “yesterday”. It’s going to be a long, drawn out wait for November 3 to arrive.
Overall, I thought this was a good event and I’m looking at getting my hands on these new toys in the months ahead.
Apple is getting ready to launch their newly redesigned Danbury Fair Mall location with the new design language that has already debuted in other retail locations, such as the Union Square store in San Francisco.
As I arrived this morning, the prep teams were still putting the finishing touches on the store: setting up chairs at the newly designed tables, arranging the milk crate seats in front of the video wall in The Forum, and obsessively, and I do mean obsessively, wiping away every smudge and fingerprint on the massive sliding glass panels that make up the enterance to the store.
The new retail store format is the work of Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s SVP of Retail and Online Store, and Jonathan Ivy, Apple Chief Design Officer.
The store looks absolutely great! It is instantly recognizable as an iconic Apple store, and still offers a clean modern look that makes you want to just come in and hang out. The Forum video wall looks really nice! Coming to the store for the new Apple Today sessions is going to be really great fun.
All of the Apple managers and staff that I have talked to this morning, like me, are really excited for the new store and the format. This store, just like the products that are sold here, is just incredible!
With less than an hour to go before the Danbury store relaunched, the employees are marking the last checks on everything.
As the 10:00am launch our draws near, the crew gets in a group photo.
After the doors opened, the group of enthusiastic customers that had gathered in the mall flooded in!
I had the opportunity to put on an Apple t-shirt and head down to the New Haven Apple Store with my Dad to pick up a new Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch. In a nutshell, I bough a 256GB, Wi-Fi, Space Grey iPad Pro with an Apple leather Smart Cover. I will post my impressions of the iPad Pro at a later time. Until then, here are my unboxing photos.
Today, I’m picking up a new MacBook Pro 15″ with Touch Bar and Touch ID.
For the last year, I have been happily using a 2015 27″ 5K iMac as my daily driver for personal and school work. While I love my 5K iMac, there have been lots of times while working on papers, drawings, and programming assignments when I needed to get away from my desk and out of my home office. On those occasions, I used a work issued Dell Latitude. The Dell does a fine job (I’m the main buyer for work PCs and servers), but…it’s just not a Mac.
I have been thinking about what to purchase for a while now. The MacBook (One). A 13″ MacBook Pro (Escape). A 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID. I have finally settled on the 2016 15″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID. Even now, as I’m getting ready to head to the Apple Store, I’m still not sure which color, space grey or silver, I am going to buy. I have owned many silver MacBook Pros, more so than any other color (white, charcoal, or black). My last MacBook, the 2009 17″ MacBook Pro was silver. I think this time, I will go with the space gray model. But who knows, I may change my mind at the last minute.
Earlier this week, Apple’s wireless ear buds, AirPods, when on sale in Apple Stores. After selling out almost immediately, I finally got mine today. What follows is my story and first impressions about getting my pair of AirPods.
I first learned about Apple’s new AirPods wireless earbuds like many of you…while watching a recording of Apple’s iPhone 7 event back on September 7th. I was super excited about them and was looking forward to getting a pair to go with my iPhone 7 Plus. Alas, the AirPods wouldn’t be ready until “October”. Throw in a “We need a little bit more time to get them exactly right” from Apple PR and you end up with some disappointed customers.
Fast forward to December 13, when Apple dropped a press release stating that the AirPods where now on sale at Apple.com. Whoa! I totally missed the press release because, you know, work, and by the time I checked out the online store, AirPods were showing delivery dates three to four weeks out. Having to do the responsible adult thing this past Monday meant that there was no chance of taking the morning off to get in line at one of my local Apple Stores. Topping it all off, AirPods are showing delivery dates around mid-February. 2017. Ugh!
But my luck changed today, thanks to iStockNow.com! Using their inventory status tool, I was energetically checking AirPod stock in Connecticut, New York City, Long Island, and southern Massachusetts. Yes, I seriously considered driving out of state, taking a train down to Grand Central Station, or taking my car over to Long Island via ferry.
At 3:30pm, I saw that Apple Danbury received some in. The hour drive, by comparison to getting on a ferry, wasn’t too bad, but driving back home in rush hour traffic would have been the worst. With AirPods in my bag and my finger hovering over “Buy with Apple Pay” in the Apple Store iOS app, I chose to wait. I decided to wait a half hour to get back to my iMac, and I told myself that if they were still available for pickup in Danbury, I would buy them and go pick them up after dinner. When I checked the status, to my surprise, the AirPods were sold out in Danbury, but were “in” at Apple Trumbull. I hastily changed by order and purchased them online for pick up today. He shoots! He scores!
Earlier today, I dropped by Apple Trumbull in Westfield’s Trumbull mall. The store was busy, as you would expect, but not super packed. The greeter checked me in, and a few minutes later, Joe was coming over help me finalize my order. Joe recognized my name from the store’s grand opening event two years ago. We got to talking and I decided to open my AirPods in the store and set them up. Joe gave me a quick session on how to pair AirPods with my iPhone 7 Plus (Spoiler Alert: Flip open the AirPods case next to your unlocked iPhone running iOS 10) and how to use them. There was a lot going on in the store, so I appreciated him taking some extra time with me for a one-on-one. I also took a few minutes to talk to Mary, the store manager, just to let her know how awesome her staff is.
W1, iCloud, and the Magic of the Secret Sauce
AirPods, are Bluetooth wireless ear buds. The bud part that goes in your ear is styled after the current EarPod wired ear buds that Apple puts in the box with the iPhone. I always thought that Apple’s ear buds were comfortable to wear, and the AirPods are no exception. Pairing Bluetooth devices is a real pain in the neck. Apple solved this problem by creating the W1 system on a chip. W1 makes pairing AirPods with your Apple devices effortless if that device is running iOS 10, macOS Sierra, or watchOS 3. Just hold the AirPod case a few inches away from your unlocked iPhone and flip open the AirPods case. Boom!
For devices like my 4th generation AppleTV, the pairing process is still super simple, but you must press the round button on the back of the case to initiate the pairing process. Because all my Apple devices are signed in to iCloud using the same account as my iPhone, all my devices instantly knew about my new AirPods. That takes so much of the hassle out of trying to use Bluetooth headphones and ear buds with more than one device. I love my PowerBeats ear buds for working out at the gym, but I almost never bother trying to get them to connect to my iPad Air to watch a TV show or movie. Thanks to W1 and iCloud, using AirPods with all my iDevices is really easy.
AirPods in Action
There are some cool things you can do with AirPods. First off, if you pull one of the ear buds out of your ear, whatever you are listening too or watching will instantly pause. Pop the bud back in, and the music or video automatically resumes. Double-tapping either one of the AirPods will summon Siri. You can ask Siri to raise or lower the volume, skip the current track, or read new messages. Any command that you can issue to Siri from your iPhone, Watch, or Mac will work. In my few hours of playing with them, I haven’t found a command yet that didn’t work. My daughter Kate wanted to do some Christmas shopping this evening. I brought along AirPods so I could listen to some Christmas music while walking around the local Target. A good song came on, and I pulled out one ear bud and popped it into her ear so we could both listen. We got an aisle length apart and her AirPod bud was still rocking out without any trouble. While connected to my iMac (in my finished basement), I could listen to music on my AirPods two floors away in my bedroom. That’s some really great range! You can also use one AirPod at a time. You won’t be listening in stereo, but that’s perfectly fine while talking on the phone or listening to spoken word content in podcasts or audio books.
In just a few hours of using them, I have had a good experience so far. They sound pretty good. Obviously, personal preference will come into play here. I’m not an audiophile, and I like the sound of the wired EarPods. To me, AirPods sound as good as the wired ear buds. They are light weight and are comfortable to wear. I think the best part about AirPods is that there are absolutely no wires to get tangled up in. I won’t catch the wire around the arm rest on my office chair. There’s no cable to bunch up behind my neck while walking or running. And the AirPods in their case is a smaller package them my PowerBeats in their case. The negatives I can see with the AirPods in my limited amount of testing are the purchase price ($149.00) and the fact that unlike EarPods or Beats headphones, there are no buttons on AirPods. Volume up, volume down, play/pause, and track skipping can only be done via Siri, from your iPhone, your Watch, or another connected Apple device. This wasn’t an issue for me. Each time I double-tapped an ear bud, Siri correctly understood and issued my voice commands. Even in a busy Target store. The pause/play feature also worked well just by taking one ear bud out of my ear. AirPods provide about five hours of continuous use, and are charged when they are placed in their case. The case charges via a Lightening cable. A Lightning cable is provided in the box, however, you will need to provide an adapter, like the one that comes in the box with iPhone. This might be a problem for some heavy iPhone users who may need to charge their iPhone and their AirPods/case at the same time.
But let’s cut to the chase. Everyone I talked to about the AirPods at work, and Meghan, my Apple loving child, thinks I’m crazy for wanting AirPods because I will promptly lose one and be sad. I baby my Apple equipment. I can’t imagine a normal day-to-day situation where I would misplace one or both buds. They sit nicely in my ears. Shaking my head in a vigorous side-to-side “No!” motion does not cause them to fall out. Walking around the mall does not cause them to fall out. Double-tapping them does not cause them to fall out. Lying in bed watching a movie on my iPad wasn’t a problem. Heck, I even did 30 jumping jacks without any problems. Every ear is different, so your individual mileage may vary. When I’m not using them, I plan on putting the buds back in their charging case, so I don’t expect to misplace either of them. There is no “Find My AirPods” app, so you will need to remember where you put them down.
Everything told, I’m super excited to have a pair of AirPods, especially considering how constrained supply is right now. They sound great, the W1 chip makes the Bluetooth pairing process dead simple, and they work as advertised. In a word, I would call the new Apple AirPods “magical” and I am going to enjoy using them.