Update: I’d been under the impression that the W1 chip in AirPods required matching tech in the iPhone 7, but it turns out this isn’t the case, and the chip can perform its pairing and power-saving magic with older devices too. That only underlines my desire to see Apple license the chip.
Of all the things that Apple announced during the iPhone 7 launch, the W1 chip actually impressed me most. I’d guessed that Apple would be including something like this, suggesting beforehand that the tech might solve three problems with Bluetooth audio.
First, fast and rock-solid pairing. First-time pairing should be quick and painless, and once headphones have been paired to a particular iPhone, they should instantly re-pair next time they are used. No more of the ‘will they or won’t they?’ question familiar to current-generation Bluetooth products.
Second, the connection too should be ultra-reliable. No random cutouts that interrupt the audio stream. Even half a second’s stuttering quickly becomes really annoying when listening to music.
Third, the power efficiency should be better than current low-energy Bluetooth, so charging headphones becomes a weekly thing for the average user, not something we have to do every few days.
Apple still hasn’t revealed much detail about the W1 chip, but it definitely addresses at least two out of the issues, and probably all three …
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