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Off My Chest: Confessions Of An AirPods Lover

AirPods have changed my life, mostly for good, but in some ways, for bad.
Since I bought my first pair of AirPods at the end of 2018, they have been in my shirt pocket almost every day.
Not only have they been in my pocket, but one is usually in my ear most of the day as well. As soon as I get up, I often pop one in. Then when going to bed, I pop it out when I am falling asleep.

I have always longed for accessible technology that was small, really small. When Apple
introduced AirPods,
I fantasized about its potential. I longed for a beautiful new device that could rest gently and comfortably on my ear, something gorgeous that would tell me everything I wanted to hear.

In 2019 I probably listened to more podcasts, audiobooks, and music than any other year. You can tell from my usage in the past ten days that I have listened to over 50 hours of audio almost exclusively using my AirPods.
I listen to a lot of podcasts, and lately, a lot of YouTube in the background as well. Usually, all of the usage for YouTube would fall under podcasts, making podcasts around ~45 hours of listening but have been on a YouTube Premium trial to test it out.

Music is usually more and is also being taken up by YouTube usage, and I have also been taking a break on books after reading (and listening to) over 24 of them last year.
Still, a total of 50 hours of audio for a period of ten days is a lot. And I honestly don’t know if I would have managed without the convenience of AirPods.

So what possessed me to even consider buying Apple’s wireless AirPods? They are small, lightweight, easy to forget and always perch precariously from a tiny shelf of ear cartilage. I have learned two great facts about my AirPods over the last two years: 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 models 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 fill my battery during the day. I decided I’d better get used to the wireless lifestyle as early as possible.

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 love them to the core.

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 fall off. Fortunately, 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 accessory.

My AirPods are even vulnerable when I sit in my living room comfy chair. My dog is frequently involved in displacing one or both AirPods as I unwind.
Tom has a couple of endearing traits that cause me minor grief. At least once a day, while I am sitting, Tom 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. Tom 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 usually find the missing AirPods pretty easily, but I have occasionally needed to use the AirPod “Play Sound” option inside
the
“Find My” app.
The audible beacon it triggers is just loud enough for me to locate the missing accessory. 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 little 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. And then I noticed my AirPods dangling 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 popped them back into my ears, started the Music app on my iPhone, and I immediately heard Justin Bieber singing, “love yourself.” 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 effect on sound or battery life. What a delight! In fact, recently, I bought a new pair of
AirPods Pro
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 generation AirPods
back into their charging case and start using the AirPods Pro. 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, purchasing a new set of AirPods Pro was very much worth the cost.

The ability to take one out of its case, knowing that it is fully charged, popping it in my ear, automatically connecting to my iPhone, then pressing play on whatever it is I was planning on listening to, has been such a subtle but outstanding life improvement that is hard to describe.
But this improvement has a downside, of course.
Being able to listen to audio comfortably for hours at a time at such a fantastic convenience means I am allowing a separation between myself and the world too easily.
I realized that when I am at home, I always have them in, or at least one, listening to a podcast, audiobook, or watching a video. It has made chores that much more enjoyable, which is a plus, but some chores that I share with my wife have now become cold and quiet. It has even caused my wife to listen to her headsets when we are cooking or cleaning since I am not available to talk.

At work, I am continually listening as well. Even when I get up to go to the bathroom, I make sure to have an AirPod in to listen to a podcast or a song on the way there and back. At our desks, at work, everyone is usually listening to something, but I can’t even walk from the parking lot to my office without popping in an AirPod.

My AirPods, and you can argue Podcasts and AudioBooks, have become my new Twitter or FaceBook when standing inline. Whenever I am at the bank or queuing for food at a restaurant, everyone has there phones out as they wait for their turn at the counter. I know longer stare at my iPhone in line as much anymore because I usually already have an AirPod in listening to my 30th podcast for the day.
Just like using your iPhone for boredom or a time-filler doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, no matter what some people say. But allowing yourself to get bored at times can help you in other ways, such as relieving any anxiety or allowing thoughts to come in organically instead of being forced through social media, authors, or podcasts.

So one thing I have learned in owning Airpods for over two years now is that, to me, audio has become my new boredom filler. Podcasts and AudioBooks are my new form of distraction being fed to me through two beautifully designed white wireless headsets.
Instead of scrolling through the infinity pool of Twitter or Facebook, I now get endless voices in my ear at all hours of the day. This has been a huge advantage in being able to consume so many audio books and podcasts, particularly those that provide tips on life and self-help.
But I am also realizing at the middle of 2020 that I gained a lot of self-help and new ways of living my life last year. The remainder of this year I hope to follow that trend and new knowledge instead of feeling like I need to continue to consume it so much.

There is no way I can cancel some of my favorite podcasts on these topics like The Tim Ferriss Show and Focused, but reading books I am taking a break from this year. I have a stack, digitally and physically, that I still need to read that I may take my time with, but I am not going to try and continuously listen to books throughout the year as I did before.

I have yet to do an actual AirPods review. It is not that I don’t want too, I think it is because when I first got them, there was no friction in becoming my new and, almost, only pair of headphones. I just started using them and never stopped.
Usually, when I write a review about a device, I try to stick to some narrative. Coming up with some pros and cons on the device I am reviewing then counter those pros and cons with reasons why they either don’t matter or should be a deal-breaker.

AirPods, unexpectedly, came into my life and just became an integral part of it promptly. There are cons, besides the ones I described above, causing me to disconnect with the world so easily, but others like them having a hard time to connect to my phone sometimes or them having a hard time switching inputs to another device like my MacBook or iPad.

It took almost a year for my ears to be comfortable with the design of the headphones, too, since I never really like the original EarPods Apple provides in the box with iPhones. They usually start to not last very long on a charge after a year and a half. Also, losing them can be very easy, and the Find My app on my iPhone doesn’t always work when trying to find one.
This is all to say I am never letting my AirPods go, and when these die as the last ones did, I will probably replace them pretty quickly. But I am learning from the habits that these headphones are creating and trying to be better when around my wife or coworkers and be present more.

The AirPod’s biggest pro is the fact that you can listen to anything fairly quickly without fail from your iPhone with comfort and hours at a time. I am most comfortable with them when working in my office, relaxing in the house, or riding in a car. That is most of my day. Even so, I still keep a set of my trusty old EarPods handy for times when walking outdoors or when lying in bed. My AirPods Pro are nice, and I’m glad I bought them, actually, I use them more when I travel by plane or train, when I am in a crowded venue or when I really want to block out the world.

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