Down to Earth: My First Hundred Days with AirPods

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

My mother used to claim I would lose my head if it were not screwed on. How I have suffered with that ancient rebuke. Dear Mother, I do not lose things. I simply store them in mysterious places.

In May of 2015, my wife and I invited our 27-year-old son to join us on our first trip to Paris. This vacation was especially important to me. I used to be somewhat fluent in the language, having studied French throughout junior high, high school and college. To my great pleasure, after landing in the City of Lights, I discovered that I had not lost my command of the language, and through some miracle, I had not lost anything else. My passport was still in my pocket, the Euros were still in my wallet, and my guide dog was still at the end of his leash.

I also managed to hang on to my iPhone. I did not lose it in the Catacombs, or atop the Eiffel Tower. I had it with me in the Louvre and in Notre Dame. I even replied to emails in quaint cafes and I used it to capture the magical sounds of a truly enchanting city.

And then, a few days into our Parisian adventure, we decided to take the Paris subway from our hotel to a fancy restaurant. We walked down the millions of steps into the tunnels and waited for the Metro train. My son and I agreed that his Mom should get on the train first so that we could most easily keep track of each other. It seemed like a great idea.

The train rolled in. The doors flew open. My wife stepped in. The doors closed. Richard and I were still on the platform. The grand plan was falling apart.

Richard and his Mom were calling out to each other through the thick subway glass, trying to communicate with muffled voices and hand signals. I was standing there, befuddled, knowing what my mother would think. The train pulled away, vanishing into the darkness. I had, in a foreign country, just lost my wife.

So what possessed me to even consider buying Apple's wireless AirPods a few months ago? They are small, lightweight, easy to forget and always perch precariously from a tiny shelf of ear cartilage. I have learned two great truths about my AirPods over the last one hundred days: They are easy to love and easy to lose.

My old wired EarPods were just fine for a long time. If I dropped an EarPod, I could simply trail the wire like bread crumbs to rediscover the treasure. But, Apple cut my audio umbilicus with the new iPhone 7 by removing the dedicated headphone jack. I understand that wired EarPods are packaged with the new iPhones, but they use the Lightning port, which is also the way I top off my battery during the day. I decided I'd better get used to the wireless lifestyle before I upgrade my iPhone later this year.

I took a deep breath and made the AirPods investment. Around the same time, I also bought the BeatsX wireless offering, as well as the BT Waves much less expensive headset. Nowadays, I almost never touch the BeatsX or BT Waves products. The AirPods are well-engineered, delightfully intuitive and much, much nicer. I do love them.

Still, AirPods have a weakness. Gravity. Since I work at home, I generally only use my AirPods in the house. This helps as they are more easily found when they take a leap. Thankfully, they don't shatter on impact. However, I remain fearful. Even after all these months, I still forget when my AirPods are dangling in place. On many occasions, I have lifted an arm to reach up into a kitchen cabinet, knocking an AirPod loose, immediately sending me into a frenzy. There is no dignity in my dropping to my knees on the tiled floor, hoping I do not land on the precious item, then sweeping the surface with my fingers, trying to recapture the elusive device.

My AirPods are even vulnerable when I sit in my living room comfy chair. My guide dog is frequently involved in dislodging one or both AirPods as I relax. Grandin has a couple of endearing traits that cause me minor grief. At least once a day, while I am sitting, Grandin will stand on his two hind legs and drape his front paws over my shoulders. He really likes to wipe his nose on my shirt. I am his handkerchief. And, if those two front paws do not successfully fling my AirPods into the abyss, his other little habit certainly will. Grandin thinks it is important to sniff my ears, just checking my identity to be sure that I am who I claim to be. That wet nose of his has launched many an AirPod.

Fortunately, I can usually find the missing AirPods with just a little crawling, but I have occasionally needed to use the AirPod "Play Sound" option inside the "Find My iPhone" app. The audible beacon it triggers is just loud enough for me to locate the missing item. Because I almost only wear my AirPods indoors, I have never had to go hunting outside where the ambient noise might drown out the emergency audio alert.

Of course, the fact that AirPods are so comfortable and easy to forget has left me susceptible to feeling a tad foolish. Recently, I took my iPhone upstairs to the master bathroom. I set down my phone and AirPods case and stepped into the walk-in shower. I waited until the rest of me was clean before I started to shampoo my hair, lathering up my silver locks. And then I noticed my AirPods hanging from my ears. I'd been in the shower for about a half hour and was mortified. Rather than immediately step out of the shower with soapy hair, I carefully rinsed out the suds and toweled off. I stepped out, put the AirPods on a dry washcloth, and felt dumb as dirt. I patted them dry and decided to just see how permanent the damage was. I put them back into my ears, started the Music app on my phone, and I immediately heard Billy Joel singing, "Only the Good Die Young." Perfect! No damage at all. Somehow they survived a hot shower and shampoo. Do not try this at home. Your mileage may vary.

The previously water-logged pair still works like new. No impact on sound or battery life. What a thrill! In fact, I had bought a second pair of AirPods because I use them all day, every day. After about five hours, I hear the warning signal in the ear piece that the current set is down to 10% of their battery reserve. I immediately put the first pair back into their charging case and start using the second set. Rather than wait fifteen minutes to get a decent charge on the depleted AirPods, I simply use the extra pair so that I have no loss in productivity. For me, the additional set of AirPods was very much worth the cost.

I have been very lucky, and thrilled with my new wireless AirPods. The last hundred days have been fun. I was also very lucky and thrilled in the Paris subway. Before my wife disappeared in the train, my son and his mom successfully communicated that she should get off at the next stop and wait for the next train from our station. She did and we were reunited about fifteen minutes later. My own mother would not worry too much about lost AirPods, but I might have been given quite a lecture if I had left my wife in Paris.


G. Morgan Watkins spent thirty years at the University of Texas at Austin, most of it in information technology leadership, where he also co-authored a popular Graduate School textbook about a standard Macintosh programming environment, "The Educator's Guide to HyperCard and HyperTalk." He also served on the Guide Dogs for the Blind Board of Directors and later as their Acting President and CEO.

Morgan is now happily retired again, and playing both his old violin and his new mandolin. Morgan has created 17 other blogs for AppleVis, including "Sounds In The Sofa: Learning To Love My AirPods," "Blind Santa: Audible Books from me to me," and "Sleeping With The Stars: Old Time Radio and my iPhone." Morgan always appreciates your comments and feedback.

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19 Comments

Fabulous article

This is a fabulous read. I'm trying not to laugh as I work here at my standing desk. Perhaps you should write to Apple and suggest a "Find My Wife App" be included in the next iOS release. Just kidding, I think. Haha. Keep up the great articles.

Earpods

My EarPods are coming next week. If I lose them, I’m definitely blaming apple is!

Nice, but how?

Very nice article, and very inspiring for a fellow loser of everything from a slightly newer generation. I appreciate the stories. Only question I have for everyone here is how, oh how in the name of the vast and mighty Apple overlords do so many people have the money to purchase soooo many (and occasionally so many multiple) Apple gismos and perriferals? I just got an Ipad Pro several months ago (and am now kicking myself for not waiting for the 19 inch), and it was a major investment. I'd love a smart keyboard and some airpods, but holy bugger are those things expensive!

Don't laugh, air on the side of caution!

Forgive the cheesy pun but, If you lose one of these cuties you will be paying big money to Apple for a replacement! I was very lucky to receive my AirPods on December 21, 2016! Two months ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a gala event. in short, A lovely wine and sleaze! I don my expensive Italian suit, hooked up my three-year-old golden retriever and as a piece to resistance, decided to take my AirPods! Low and behold! I did forget that I had them in my ears! Much to my chagrin, the right airpod flew out but, I am quick, yes, old but quick and I caught the escaping airpod! However, I checked my left ear… You got it… No airpod! Find my AirPods showed me that it was lost in a parking lot! To this day, it has not been found! I could not abide the reality of using one airpod, so, I paid the piper and went to Apple to buy a replacement! 75 clams boys and girls… You have been warned!

Another read with many giggles

Oh Morgan, my friend, I so enjoy reading your posts. I always relate to the points when your dog gets to be included in your stories as mine do the same things. Must be built into their training regimen, right? You have such a wonderful way of drawing your readers right into your exploits and I'm sure to find some giggles along the way, while reading your latest life situations.

As always, thanks for the giggles and sharing your experiences with our beloved Apple products. Keep em coming.

Air pods?

Hi, Morgan! I was wondering, if I put the air pods in to help me sleep or do my meditation at night, will lying on my side make them uncomfortable? Also, when I type with the current bluetooth earphones I have in, they make this very loud beeping noise. Do the airpods do that? Is there any delay using voiceover if I decide to type rapidly? am I going to miss letters being announced if I have character echo turned on?

Sorry for the barrage of questions, but I want to make very sure that the investment is worth it before I spend $160 for a set of earphones which I may or may not like or find useful.

Too Rich for my Blood!

Hi Morgan, great article, I always look forward to hearing your next experiences with the fruity products. Keep them coming!

As for owning a very pair of my own, I find the price tag, especially at $220 in Canada, just a little too high. I did though purchase the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium during the holidays, and although they may not be as sleed as the AirPods, do just as good a job. Maybe someday if the price in Canada ever goes down, then maybe I may fork out the cash, but until then, I will just have to be happy with my Aftershokz.

Timely Read for me

I bought AirPods for my birthday. At work, I have been looking for a blue tooth option for my phone that reduces the wires but also fits while I'm waring work headphones to hear my computer speech and not disturb my office mates. Yesterday was my first with the AirPods and it went really well. I told a friend of my purchase and he expressed concerns that they would fall out of the ear. I told him that they seemed to stay placed there just fine for me and that they were quite comfortable as well. However, last evening I had the experience of jarring one loose from my ear with some part of my arm. After a prolonged search on hands and knees of my dog hair covered kitchen floor, I did locate the little pod. Though he has not done this yet, Dusty, my black lab guide, is a world champion licking machine who probably will remove one of my pods from my ear at some point soon! I did not have success using the find my pod feature, though the app did have the pods on line. I keep buds in my ear all the time and actually put my normal apple earbuds in their case. They have not been in their case since I first opened this pack. I really enjoyed using my GPS app out doors with the AirPods but my brief experience and Morgan's 100 days suggest to me that is not a safe strategy. Like you Morgan, I have other wireless options but I don't expect to use them much if at all now.

Thanks for sharing

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

sockhopsinger,

Thank you for such a kind note. It is always good to hear from you. And, I am glad you found the story enjoyable. It was a fun blog to write.

Please keep in touch!

Relaxing with my AirPods

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Howdy Alex,

Good luck with your new AirPods.

Although I have scrambled on all fours trying to track down the occasional dislodged AirPod, I have always managed to find them in good working order. So far, so good.

One of my simple joys these days is to leave my 6S Plus charging on a nearby coffee table and then sit in my comfy chair with only my very lightweight Keys-To-Go keyboard and my AirPods. No heat or extra weight from my phone. It is a delightful way to read, write and research!

Cost of cool

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Dear Remy_C,

I sure agree with you. All this technology does get expensive. Even so, I really appreciate the accessibility we enjoy with Apple. And, even though AirPods are not essential to my happiness, I must admit that I really like them.

Wine, cheese and AirPods

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Rocker,

Your AirPods story is great. And, you are much braver than me. Although slightly tempted to wear my AirPods to Costco or some other public venue, I worry about repeating what you have already experienced. Of course, your coordination sounds much better than my own. If I were at a gala and I felt one of my AirPods falling, I would have likely swung my arms and successfully knocked the AirPod straight into the punch bowl.

Your comments were very descriptive, entertaining and informative. Thank you.

Great hearing from you

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Howdy Roxann,

Thanks for writing. I always look forward to your comments.

I'm glad that you enjoyed my mention of Grandin. He is my third guide, and is both an excellent working pup and a very dear friend. I expect he will continue to show up in my blogs. I also enjoy hearing about your dog.

Best wishes,

Morgan

Answers to questions

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Erika,

Great questions! My responses below are based solely on my own experience, so you might wish to check with others, too. In my local Apple store, they had a demo set that I was able to try before purchasing my AirPods on line. That might also help you determine if AirPods would be just right for you.

You wrote, "I was wondering, if I put the air pods in to help me sleep or do my meditation at night, will lying on my side make them uncomfortable?"

My AirPods tend to fall off my ear if I put them in at bedtime or am on the floor playing with my dog. When I am going to sleep or am going to be physically active, I tend to switch back to my wired EarPods. Gravity can work against you. I also avoid wearing AirPods in public where it would be a pain to go hunting for one, should I drop it. Sometimes, especially when traveling, I will use my BeatsX wireless headphones because they are much more difficult to lose. Even so, I much prefer the AirPods for use in my home.

Although I have never permanently lost one of my AirPods, I am always conscious of where and when I use them.

You wrote, "When I type with the current bluetooth earphones I have in, they make this very loud beeping noise. Do the airpods do that?"

No, my AirPods do not do that. I do have an old set of non-Apple wireless headphones and they bleep and blip when I would rather they did not. AirPods are much gentler. On rare occasion, especially when I am changing out BlueTooth devices, the sound coming from the AirPods may spike for just a moment, but not uncomfortably so. It is a rare and very minor surprise. They do not add extra sounds for the heck of it. However, when the AirPod battery is down to ten percent, there is a pleasant and distinctive beep pattern that alerts you. It is loud enough to be heard, but not intrusive. Overall, sound quality through my AirPods is quite excellent. And, very important to me, I can still hear ambient noise around me so that I am not completely isolated by the sound coming from the AirPods.
You wrote, "Is there any delay using voiceover if I decide to type rapidly? am I going to miss letters being announced if I have character echo turned on?"

I use a Keys-To-Go BlueTooth keyboard all the time. Generally, I have keyboard echo set to "Words," so I do not really experience delays. However, as I am typing this answer back to you, I have reset the keyboard echo to "Characters and Words." I think I can sense a slight delay, but it is minuscule and is not annoying to me. I am a reasonably fast typist, and this is not uncomfortable. The only time I do notice a BlueTooth delay is when I play Trivia Crack and am trying to swipe between buttons very quickly. If I switch back to wired EarPods, that delay in reading buttons goes away, but the convenience of the AirPods has taught me a bit of patience when I am trying to rush in that game. Of all the BlueTooth headsets I have played with, the AirPods are the most responsive. And, as I finish this answer with characters being echoed, I am not even noticing the keyboard delay. It may be there, but it is not bothering me. I have been using my AirPods for more than three months, probably averaging more than eight or ten hours a day, and I continue to find them perfect for my indoor needs.

I hope this helps,

Morgan

Morgan,

Morgan,
Thank you for your help. Your reply has been extremely helpful! Thanks again.
Best regards, Erika Gilbert

Price tag

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Yo Blinken223,

Howdy from Texas!

I completely understand the "sticker shock." For that reason, when I am outside the home, I am using cheaper earphones. Most of the time, my AirPods are strictly for use indoors.

I'm really glad the AfterShokz are working well for you. I've noticed that a lot of people like them.

Thanks for writing!

Dogs, gravity and AirPods

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Jim,

I enjoyed your note.

Short of gluing the AirPods to our heads, there will always be that risk of gravitational interference. Can't mess with gravity. It's the law. Even so, I find the AirPods so darn nice. Fortunately, where I really want my AirPods is in the house, which is also where I work. My dear dog has already knocked the right AirPod off today and it landed near the fireplace. Of course, it was fine.

Glad to hear you are enjoying your AirPods!

Take care.

Love your stories.

Thank you for another story.
I love your stories!
I think I could sit here all day and read them all one after the other. You always manage to make me laugh.
I was sleepy not to long ago. Not any-more, after reading another chronicle. hahahaha!
Thank you once again for sharing a bit of your life and adventures with us.

Good morning

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

JLove,

Thank you so much for your note. A very nice way to start my Sunday morning. I'm glad you enjoyed this latest blog.

Have a pleasant weekend!