Apple’s iconic silhouetted dancers are back. But they’re not schilling iPods. They’re part of a sketch on Conan that shows Apple’s new wireless AirPods flying out of people’s ears like they’re on rockets.
It’s a funny parody because it touches on the public’s most lingering concern–that these $160 headphones will just fall out of our ears and get lost the moment we lose ourselves to the joy of untethered music.
This concern isn’t unfounded. When I reported the impending Her revolution, interviewing both industrial design and AI specialists, I learned that the biggest problem with wireless earbuds is that, without the weight of the cord anchoring them down, they’re prone to pop out of your ear. Furthermore, athletes will often take extra precautions and buy headphones that wrap all around their outer ears just to keep them snug.
My hypothesis is that Apple solved this problem by using the AirPod’s dangling tail, which contains the antenna and microphone, as a ballast to anchor the AirPod in an ear. How well does that work? According to Conan’s sketch writers, not that well! It’s a skepticism ripe for parody. Conan isn’t alone in mocking the pods: for more giggles, check out this Courage-branded earbud leash (that, incidentally, you can actually buy for $8).
However, reviews of Apple AirPods seem to signal that–as Tim Cook recently went on TV to assure the public–they really do stay in your ears during runs. But even hands-ons at The Verge and Refinery29 left testers nervous to push the limits.”I jumped up and down and shook my head a bit and they felt snug, but I wouldn’t count on them staying in during any particularly dynamic activities,” wrote Nilay Patel.
In this sense, whether AirPods falling out of people’s ears is a real or perceived problem is almost beside the point. The public has become skeptical of Apple’s magic–perhaps a natural course of events when the iPhone’s fragile aesthetic seems almost built to break. Even if Apple has defied all odds and delivered the perfect wireless headphone, plenty of people wouldn’t believe it.
Oh, and by the way. If AirPods aren’t your thing, but you’re looking for a cheap way to upgrade your iPhone 6 to an iPhone 7, try this!