Apple's AirPods may quietly be the best "truly wireless" Bluetooth earbud option on the market

Apple's AirPods may quietly be the best "truly wireless" Bluetooth earbud option on the market

Apple announced their AirPods a couple weeks ago during their iPhone / Apple Watch event, and the launch of these new headphones comes along with more controversy than normal, even in the context of past polarizing product releases from the company.

The main reason around the controversy is that the AirPods are being closely associated with the removal of the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Something is changing / going away, so people are having the knee-jerk reaction of being mad about it. It doesn't seem like there's any going back from here, though -- Apple won't be able to re-introduce the headphone jack for next year's presumably enormous release of the 10th anniversary iPhone, and two straight generations without a headphone jack for the most popular smartphone in the world is probably enough to kill that little thing for good. In 2-3 years, the frustrations around the loss of the headphone jack will likely be forgotten, and in 5-7 years, we'll be laughing at the days we walked around with our head attached to our pants pocket.

All of this is not the point of my article here, though. On their own merits, Apple's AirPods are extremely impressive (on paper) compared to existing and upcoming competition. "On paper" is the only way to make comparisons to the competition so far, seeing as how these things haven't been released yet. But if you search for early reviews of the new headphones, you'll find that most early reviewers are finding them to be more than acceptable in terms of sound quality as well.

Taking a quick look at Apple's competitors reveals a fairly straightforward conclusion that the AirPods offer some of the best performance specs on the market, at a $169 price that is objectively low compared to similar products. To make this comparison, a few points have to be assumed:

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Google made my favorite iOS keyboard

Google made my favorite iOS keyboard

I've been using Google's new Gboard for iOS, and it's quickly become my keyboard of choice on my iPhone. The success rate of third-party keyboards varies widely (Swype proved to be useless to me, and I don't use the Copied keyboard as much as I imagined I would), but Google has combined a bunch of powerful features into what feels like a keyboard that fits modern texting, Tweeting and emailing habits. 

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Bill Simmons launching new podcast (thank goodness)

Bill Simmons launching new podcast (thank goodness)

Bill Simmons was so, so good at covering everything I cared about listening to across the entire sports spectrum that I didn't bother looking for more granular shows that specifically covered the NFL, college football, college basketball, the NBA, whatever else. I didn't feel the need to, because I thought that Simmons was nailing everything to the extent I needed it covered.

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Nothing feels good anymore: On ad blocking

Nothing feels good anymore: On ad blocking

My recommendation here is to download some sort of ad / content blocker (Ghostery is good for desktop; Marco recommends Crystal and Purify for iOS now that Peace is down), but do it smartly. If there is a website that you love and you frequently visit, and their ads aren't annoying the hell out of you, whitelist that site so their ads show. You should feel happy to see ads when they're supporting people or companies who create content you love. Don't be a hypocrite and deny writers or editors or artists or whoever their living wages if you're still going to go and consume what they put out. That can and should make you feel like an awful citizen of the Internet. Be fair.

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Productivity: Todoist and OneNote Make A Fine Pair

Productivity: Todoist and OneNote Make A Fine Pair

My two main productivity apps are Todoist for Mac and iPhone and Microsoft's OneNote for the same platforms. I've found these two apps to make a nice pair in my daily job at DIRECTV, as well as for my side projects (running Bad Timing Records, writing for AbsolutePunk, and any personal work / life things I need to manage as well). 

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