AirPods don't "Just Work" · Philip Ardeljan is a UI designer

Date: unknown

Location: philip.design

AirPods don't "Just Work"

26 January 2022

AirPods are a fantastic product. However, the small annoyances that occur when using them don't allow it to fall under the category of Apple products that “Just Work”.

These are the gripes I've had after many years of AirPod usage. I'm currently on my third pair.

  • Annoyance 1: If you have 2 devices, say iMac and iPhone connected to AirPods, when you are using your iMac and unlock your iPhone to check something, sometimes, the AirPods switch to the iPhone. But you didn't want them to. I get that Apple is trying to be clever and anticipate your moves, which I genuinely appreciate, but when it gets in the way it's annoying.

  • Annoyance 2: (During use) When taking AirPods out of your ears and leaving them on your desk while you step away from your desk for a moment (to get some water etc) and putting them back in, sometimes, the tone sound makes you think they've connected, but they haven't.

  • Annoyance 2a: In the above scenario, the AirPods icon is visible in the menubar which really makes you think it's connected, because the UI is visually signalling that. However you need to click the bluetooth icon, and then click on the active AirPods in the list to disconnect them and then click it again to reconnect them.

  • Annoyance 2b: In the above scenario, when clicking the active AirPods in the bluetooth list, there is a short 3~ second delay which makes you think they haven't been disconnected, leading you to click it again. But your first click did actually fire leading you to be confused as to what state you are currently in.

  • Annoyance 3: When using AirPods as your microphone, when you leave a slack/zoom/etc call, if you instantly play the music you were listening to right before the call by clicking the play button on your keyboard, your music will play at a lower audio quality than if you had waited 5 seconds and then clicked play.

  • Annoyance 4: Sometimes, only the left or right AirPod plays sound. Taking them in/out of your ears doesn't fix it, you need to put it back into the case and take it back out, which sometimes, doesn't fix it. So you need to put your AirPods in/out of your case two or three times to fix it.

  • Annoyance 5: While working on your iMac/MacBook, when you get a call on your iPhone and you want to use the AirPods to take the call, it takes a good 5-7 seconds after answering the call and switching to AirPods for them to be properly connected. Which leads to the awkward “Hello? Hello? Oh yeah I can hear you now” situation.

  • Annoyance 6: After several years of usage, my first two pairs of AirPods both developed a buzzing noise which became unbearable. The only solution I found was to buy a new pair. This is a real gripe because I didn't experience this with other headphones in the past (not saying it doesn't happen with other headphones). I still balance the $300-$400 product with the fact I use them for thousands of hours per year and believe them to be a great investment, but still.

  • Annoyance 7: When moving from working on my iMac to my MacBook, I get a notification asking me if I want to switch my AirPods over to my MacBook. The notification isn't an issue, but the fact it doesn't go away after you ignore it is. You have to manually dismiss it, which is annoying. If I knew it would go away after 10 seconds, I would ignore it and continue with my work without breaking flow.

  • Edit: Annoyance 8: Woke up to another annoyance: Somtimes when putting on AirPods the tone that signifies that they have connected doesn't fire. But they actually have connected.
  • AirPods are wonderful products. But I just wish these annoying gripes would go away.