There are only a few weeks left in the year and we haven’t received an update on when Apple’s new wireless AirPods will be available to purchase. Originally planned for release in late October, Apple said it needed “a little more time” before the totally wireless Bluetooth earphones were ready for customers just days before that deadline arrived. While we have not received any specific explanation for the delay, a new report highlighting the situation may offer some details…
According to a Wall Street Journal source speaking on background, the delay may be due to how AirPods require two active wireless connections to deliver simultaneous streams.
A person familiar with the development of the AirPod said the trouble appears to stem from Apple’s effort to chart a new path for wireless headphones. In most other wireless headphones, only one earpiece receives a signal from the phone via wireless Bluetooth technology; it then transmits the signal to the other earpiece.
Edge cases like what happens when one AirPods dies or is lost have presented issues for Apple:
Apple has said AirPod earpieces each receive independent signals from an iPhone, Mac or other Apple device. But Apple must ensure that both earpieces receive audio at the same time to avoid distortion, the person familiar with their development said. That person said Apple also must resolve what happens when a user loses one of the earpieces or the battery dies.
As a new production introduction, it has been remarkable to see the delay extend beyond what we might have initially imagined. The most pessimistic prediction back in November put AirPods shipping in January which seemed like a stretch at the time.
AirPods were already missing the launch of the iPhone 7 — which drops the headphone jack in favor of Lightning and wireless headphones — in September when the wireless earbuds were announced. After missing the late October release, AirPods then missed the big Black Friday shopping day and could totally miss the 2016 holiday season at this rate.
Similarly, Apple has not yet released its Beats-branded BeatsX Bluetooth earphones which rely on the same Apple-designed W1 chip for instant pairing and switching with iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs, although these have a wire between each earbud. Apple’s website still says BeatsX earphones are coming this fall with the listing on Beats’ website still promising a late 2016 release.