The biggest innovation of AirPods is actually revolutionizing headset interaction

In 1991, Mark Weiser, a computer scientist at the turn of the century, published an article called "Computers in the 21st Century", which mentioned a new concept-pervasive computing.

Pervasive computing emphasizes that computers will be integrated into the network, environment, and life. It should be ubiquitous and unconscious. Just as we see guide signs, we don’t think about what guide signs are, but directly Looking at the words on the road signs, the computer should be "senseless" and people can use it directly without thinking.

From today's point of view, ubiquitous computing is gradually being realized, and AirPods is one of the most typical cases. It is comfortable to wear, without cutting and unorganized wires, and it is almost impossible to feel its existence when using it.

AirPods are becoming more and more "insensitive" to use

The usefulness of the new features is the kind of usefulness that people cannot feel.

Colleagues who own a variety of Apple devices such as MacBook Pro, iPad, AirPods Pro, etc., after experiencing the new function of AirPods " automatic switching" , said this to me.

▲ The automatic switching function needs to be updated to iOS 14/iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur system.

The automatic switching function is one of the two new functions Apple has recently brought to the AirPods product line. Both AirPods and AirPods Pro support. After wearing AirPods, users can seamlessly switch between iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

For example, after listening to a song on the iPhone, a later colleague sends the finished film to my Mac. When I open the video, AirPods Pro will automatically connect to the computer to play the video.

After removing the headset, the video will automatically pause again.

During this period, there is no need to set up AirPods Pro on the Mac, everything is so smooth and convenient, and the presence or change of the headset is hardly felt during the whole process.

Another new feature is spatial audio, which is the same as "automatic switching", it is also an improvement in experience. Currently only AirPods Pro can use this function. The actual experience is similar to surround sound. After turning it on, no matter how you move your head, you will still feel the sound coming from the direction of the playback device (iPhone), greatly enhancing the sense of immersion.

Previously, most of the products that provided this function were professional gaming headsets, such as JBL Quantum ONE, HyperX Cloud Orbit S, etc. After connecting to a PC, they can simulate a surround sound effect. For large-scale games that emphasize environmental changes, More three-dimensional sound is also an important part of the game experience.

Semi-in-ear design, weight less than 5g, coupled with Apple's adjustment of the AirPods shape ID, in order to adapt to most of the ear canals, there is almost no "feeling of foreign body" when wearing, which is why many people feel that AirPods are insensitive to wearing s reason.

The automatic switching and spatial audio further lift the actual experience to a level. More importantly, we hardly feel the existence of AirPods as a "microcomputer" during this period.

AirPods almost perfectly conform to the pervasive computing theory described by Mark Wieser.

This almost senseless experience has promoted the popularity of the true wireless headset category, while also changing the way it interacts with us. Listening is a kind of interaction, putting on and putting it down, and even speaking. Through AirPods, we are interacting with itself, or using it as a bridge to interact with more devices.

It is easier to understand the interaction with it itself. This is the old line of the headset category, and using it as a bridge often refers to interacting with Apple devices and even smart home devices through AirPods.

Thanks to the addition of the Siri function, AirPods can control smart homes through voice interaction. Compared with other voice commands, smart homes are simpler. Turning on and turning off the lights are all commands similar to button switches. The more complicated setting of air conditioning is also It is a command similar to a knob.

The more complex "movie mode", that is, adjusting curtains and lights at once, is still in the traditional AND-NOR switch logic.

▲ Smart homes replace some traditional switches

Although Siri is often complained of not being smart enough, it can still perform some simple switch commands well. In addition to smart homes, Siri is also a good helper for the visually impaired. After all, mobile phones are becoming more and more complex and functional. It is more convenient to use voice instead, and its underlying logic is the same as that of a smart home switch.

At this point, you may wonder, smart speakers can do these things, why use true wireless headphones?

We have also discussed this topic in the previous article . On the one hand, true wireless headphones are lighter and more portable, which is the "insensitive" experience mentioned above. On the other hand, true wireless headphones are close to the ears and manipulate Convenient and private, these are not available in smart speakers.

AirPods are now one of the entrances to IoT devices such as smart homes.

In addition to interacting with hardware products, the headset interaction mode that AirPods has changed has also affected the software ecosystem. Now, you can see more and more apps designed for audio.

The popularity of true wireless headsets drives the growth of audio apps

According to a data report released by IDC, China's wireless headset market shipped 42.56 million units in the first half of 2020, a year-on-year increase of 24%. Among them, true wireless headsets accounted for 64%, a year-on-year increase of 49%. Apple's market share of domestic wireless headsets is 18.1%, while other shares are divided among manufacturers such as Xiaomi, Huawei, and Edifier.

True wireless earphones have become another fast-growing hardware category after the smartphone market. As the pioneer of this category, AirPods has naturally received the most attention. AirPods enthusiasts have previously established a brand name for it. The website of the AirPods App Store.

▲ A corner of the AirPods App Store website

Of course, this is not the App Store officially established by Apple, but AirPods enthusiasts regularly collect software applications for AirPods in the App Store. Although they are not large in scale, they have their own characteristics.

For example, the tool application Yac is different from mainstream video conferencing software. In this software, each meeting is called a Yac, and the time limit for each Yac is 120 seconds, which requires the sender to think carefully about the content and have a clear logic.

This time-limiting voice mechanism is very convenient for teams whose members are scattered in various time zones, and there is no need for both parties in a meeting to communicate during the day at the same time. Yac claims to be a replacement for zoom. It believes that video conferencing has long been inefficient and procrastinated, and the use of restrictive audio can effectively improve efficiency.

Another popular category is audio social, is a voice social application, users can use it to record a short audio, and the system will match it with music to make this audio more interesting.

More well-known voice application is a social clubhouse, during the closed beta of this product caught the attention of Silicon Valley technology circles, and even investors willing to give it to invest 10 million US dollars, and according to the New York Times reported , it was valued at more than 100 million US dollars.

In terms of functional gameplay, clubhouse is different from most current social applications. It is an audio-based application. Users can choose topics of interest and enter the corresponding room for language chat.

There are similar audio applications in China, and the "Claws" produced by GuoKak is one of them. After entering the claws to complete the basic test, the system will recommend some chat rooms for users, and users can choose to enter according to their interests.

▲ Depaw app

In addition to the nutshell, there are many players on the track of voice social networking. Tencent has launched an application "Echo" that focuses on live voice social networking. In 2019, the hot voice social products Yinyu and Zhiya have broken into the App Store rankings. Fives.

Both the AirPods App Store and the popularity of voice social networking have only emerged in recent years, which has a lot to do with the popularity of true wireless headset products.

The change in the way we interact with headphones is one of the important reasons why the audio medium can be paid attention to by developers and show more creativity and gameplay.

AirPods revolutionized the way headphones interact

Before AirPods, earphones were a pure audio device, and the main human-computer interaction method was listening. Humans were the receivers and received the information transmitted by the earphones. Therefore, the quality and accuracy of the information transmitted were the most concerned standards.

After AirPods, all this is gradually changing. AirPods and our interaction method has become two-way, input and output can be carried out at the same time.

Looking back at the development history of AirPods, we can find that while Apple innovated the headset category, it also changed the way the headset interacts. The W1 chip on the original AirPods and the updated H1 chip greatly reduced the problem of poor headset connection and high latency. problem.

Coupled with a large number of sensors such as motion accelerators and optical sensors in AirPods, it can seamlessly link with devices in Apple's ecology, matching connection, audio information output and input, no need for human operation, everything is done unknowingly .

The addition of the Siri function has greatly expanded the range of devices that AirPods can link with, including smart door locks, lamps, switches, and smart curtains, including a large number of smart home devices. The appearance of the AirPods App Store website further proves that AirPods has changed the way we interact with the headset.

Although AirPods still have low battery capacity and Siri voice assistant is not smart enough, it has already done too many things that headsets could not do before, such as turning off the lights in a word, it was just science fiction before. In the movie.

Moreover, nowadays, Apple is not the only manufacturer of true wireless headsets, including mainstream mobile phone manufacturers such as Huawei, OPPO, Xiaomi, and vivo. Basically, they have launched true wireless headset products. Search for true wireless headsets on e-commerce apps. The price range is from From a hundred yuan to a thousand yuan.

▲ Search for "true wireless headphones" on the e-commerce platform, and you can see products of multiple brands and different price ranges

In addition to AirPods, the experience of other manufacturers is gradually keeping up. True wireless headsets with a delay of 100 ms are not uncommon on the market. OPPO also said in a speech at the Asia Bluetooth headset exhibition that it will focus on space sound effects and other fields.

AirPods is more than just an audio device. While the almost non-sense experience makes it recognized by users, it also changes the way of interaction. Just as the GUI and mouse changed the way of human-computer interaction in the computer, this change not only brings an improvement in experience, but also broadens the range of capabilities of true wireless headphones. Its shape and function are not as in science fiction movies. Is the future headset?

Picture from: Unsplash

#Welcome to follow Aifaner's official WeChat account: Aifaner (WeChat ID: ifanr), more exciting content will be provided to you as soon as possible.

Ai Faner | Original link · View comments · Sina Weibo