AirPods: The Future Is Going To Be Weird And Fascinating

I spoke to Matt Dusenbury and Chris Domico of The Campfire Project podcast about Apple Watch back in October of 2016. We hit on some interesting ideas about AirPods, Apple’s then forthcoming wireless earbuds. Here’s that part of our conversation. (Starting at 59:48, edited for clarity.)

‘Apple is gearing up to launch AirPods as their second wearables platform.’

Matt Dusenbury: I want to get Keith’s thoughts about the AirPods. I really think these are going to really ramp up how people view and use the watch. Or am I totally off base on that?

Keith Monaghan: I think you’re totally on base. There is really something to the idea that AirPods are not just wireless earbuds. They’re a new interface for interacting with voice-activated artificial intelligence. In this case, Siri. It brings to mind a world not long from now where we’re talking to our devices. Where artificial intelligence is kind of an ambient thing in the background doing stuff for us, tedious stuff that we don’t want to do. And I think the AirPods and Apple Watch combination is really just a basic step in that direction, and that they’re laying groundwork for kind of a … I don’t want to call it interaction-less … but a future where you’re not going to have to pull your phone out and open and app. You’re not even going to have to lift your Watch up and tap an app and wait for it to open. You can speak your need, whether it’s a web search or sending Chris and Matt a text. The AirPods pick it up, they transfer it to your Watch, or whatever device it needs to, and off it goes. You know, since we talked last I read about a rumored initiative in Apple called Guiding Hand. Have you guys heard about this?

Chris & Matt: Yes. Uh huh, this sounds familiar.

‘AirPods are probably one of the most significant things Apple has come out with in a long time.’

Keith: Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I believe that the discussion about it is that over the next three years, or within three years, you’ll be able to interact with your iPhone and your Watch without opening an app or activating Siri. You won’t have to press on the Home button to activate Siri. You simply speak what you want. To me, AirPods are a tacit acknowledgment that that’s where they’re heading. The combination of AirPods and a Series 1 or Series 2 Watch is the first baby step into that world. And I think the AirPods, as much as I love Apple Watch and all my other Apple products, I really think AirPods are probably one of the most significant things Apple has come out with in a long time. I think it’s a telling nod to this whole Guiding Hand initiative and where we’re heading in the very near future.

‘You can do whatever it is that you need to do without having to really interact with the device itself.’

Chris Domico: What they’re doing with accessories is being largely glanced over because people always want to talk about the next iPhone. I feel like they’re just firing on all pistons with accessories lately. I have a feeling that the AirPods are going to support that lifestyle even more. Right now I keep a pair of earbuds by my bed. I keep a pair downstairs where I do the podcast. I keep a pair in my backpack. I keep a pair somewhere else. I can imagine when I order those AirPods, which I’m going to do as humanly possible before my wife changes her mind, I imagine those are the thing I just keep in my pocket or by the bed or in my iPad bag at all times because that’s all I’m going to need audio-wise. Having them decide which device to use is just a matter of flipping the lid open. There’s nothing more user-friendly than that. I imagine those are going to be a constant companion whether they’re in my ear or in my pocket, those are going to be one of those accessories that’s with me at all times. And I think Apple realizes that.

‘These things can stay in your throughout the day and they can melt into the background.’

Keith: Yeah, absolutley. Matt, do you think AirPods are something you’d consider for running?

Matt: That’s what I’m most interested about when it comes to using them. In some of the reviews I’ve watched and read, that they seem to stay in your ears as comfortably and as well as the existing EarPods do, and those are what I use currently when I go for a run. So, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on them. But even if I can’t use them for running on a treadmill or outdoors I’m still interested in using them for the specific reason that you mention, which is that it seems that Apple is gearing up to launch AirPods, to position them, albeit subtly, as their second wearables platform. Which is that these things can stay in your ears for several hours at a time and throughout the day and they can melt into the background. They can seamlessly check into whatever device that currently holds your attention, whether it’s your phone or your laptop or your Watch or your iPad, and you can interact with Siri and you can do whatever it is that you need to do without having to really interact with the device itself.

‘I have a feeling that the AirPods are going to support the mobile lifestyle even more.’

Chris: There’s been a survey this week. That was the last thing I wanted to touch on. I know we’re way over time. But there is huge interest in these. Who did the survey? Was it Wall Street Journal?

Matt: Yeah, I was going to bring this up as well so I’m glad you mentioned it. This from Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, which in a survey said that 12% of U.S. consumers were not only interested but had an intention to actually purchase AirPods.

Chris: That’s a huge amount of AirPods. 12% doesn’t sound like a big deal but that is a ginormous amount of AirPods.

Keith: Right, because it’s 12% of consumers not 12% of Apple Watch users. And that’s amazing. I don’t know that I can think of anything recently that has had that much interest. I think it’s kind of this sneaker technology and I really think that a year from now we’re going to see yet another change in behavior and lot of people walking around with AirPods seemingly talking to themselves.

‘We’re going to see a lot of people walking around with AirPods seemingly talking to themselves.’

Chris: They’re going to be in a lot of stockings this year. I guarantee.

Keith: Absolutely. The future is going to be weird and fascinating, that’s for sure.

Matt: That’s a good way to put it.

You can listen to the entire episode on The Campfire Project website or download it free in iTunes.

Keith Monaghan