The Usability Blog
A Practical Guide to User Experience Insights

The Hunt for Headphones

I’ve owned so many headphones over the years I can’t even begin to keep track of them all. Right now I probably have at least 5 pairs, some of which get used regularly, some of them never. However, no headphones have ever fully met my needs yet; they either leave me stuck with wires or they don’t make switching between my phone, laptop, and tablet easy enough.

As a result, I was really excited to learn about Apple’s W1 chip that they announced last fall. Seemed like it might be the answer to my problems; wireless headphones designed to make it easy to switch between all of your devices. I tried both the Apple Airpods and the Beats Solo 3, and decided on the Airpods, as they were more comfortable.

Technologically, they were both great. Pairing was exactly as easy as I’d hoped it would be; turn them on and have them near the phone and it did the rest for me. Easy as pie. Switching between devices was just as easy; just select the headphones from either my iPad or MacBook Pro and they were instantly connected.

They've changed how I listen to music, and that's a great thing.

Apple Airpods out of caseIt’s been 2 months now, and I honestly couldn’t be happier with my decision to fork out the dough for the Airpods. They’ve changed how I listen to music, and that’s a great thing. It used to be I’d only listen to music when that was my sole goal; I had to take the time to dig out my headphones, turn them on, make sure they connected to my phone, and then listen. Pretty easy, but just enough of a hurdle to keep from doing it for 1 song, or a short amount of time; it had to be a little more worth it. That’s far from the case with the Airpods, though. It’s so quick to pull the case out of my pocket, throw one in my ear and hit play. I don’t have to wait for them to connect because it’s so quick and reliable. Now it’s so easy I’ll throw in an Airpod to finish the song I was listening to in the car when I get to where I’m going, then take it out as soon as the song is done. The Airpods are just a great for phone calls, too; I’ve started using them most of the time I’m on the phone (be it personal or for work). They’re great for walks/runs with my wife, too. We can each have one and listen to music while still being able to talk and be aware of our surroundings. They haven’t fallen out once, even when running.

Apple didn’t do anything earth shattering with these Airpods, or the W1 chip overall. It’s just the next step in Bluetooth/wireless technology. But what they did, and have done so well over the years, is take something and make it simple. Make it easy. And that’s why I’m so happy with my purchase. They’re not the world’s best-sounding headphones, though the quality’s not bad. They’re not the cheapest. It’s the simplicity. It fits into my life, and doesn’t make me stop to think about what I’m doing like I used to. They made it simple. They made it easy.

-Cameron Duggins, Senior UX AnalystUsability Sciences

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