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The world isn’t ready for only wireless headphones, Apple

As the never-ending rumor mill continues to report that Apple supposedly is doing away with the headphone socket on its next-generation phones (something more than 300,000 people already voiced their opinion on earlier their year), I found myself in a series of situations recently that illustrate exactly why the world isn’t quite ready yet…

“Oh crap, my battery”

Scene: Sitting next to a gentleman on a long-haul bus trip, who 20 minutes into the journey swore loudly. 

Womp, womp.

“Oh for Pete’s sake,” he muttered, pressing a button on his headphones. “Not now.”

It turns out that while the bus did have USB power sockets, and he did have a charging cable for his headphones, he was facing two problems. First: His phone was also dead, and needed charging more than his headphones. Second: his headphones charger socket was in such a place that you can’t wear and charge them at the same time.

The simple truth is that Bluetooth headphones — even fancy ones — are battery-operated devices, and will eventually need charging. Usually at the least convenient time possible.

“Hey, listen to this real quick”

Scene: Sitting in a shared office space, a marketing agency I work with sent over a video. Crap, I forgot my headphones.

KISS - Keep it simple, stupid.

No problem, I’ll borrow someone else’s. Which was the beginning of 15 minutes of faffing about to watch a three-minute video clip, leading me to wonder if this really is what the future was meant to feel like.

Granted, pairing Bluetooth devices is a lot easier than it once was, and connections are a lot more reliable than they used to be. Having said that, every set of headphones have a slightly different way of going about it, and some still require a pairing code (which is almost invariably 0000 or 1234, so it’s hardly the bastion of security it perhaps should be).

Of course, for most headphones, the pairing process is in the manual. Some have it etched on the inside band of the headphones. Some are actually smart enough to write “Pairing” on one of the buttons so it’s obvious what you need to do. And if all else fails, instructions are probably just a Google search away. But none of this is as fast or as easy as just plugging a 3.5mm plug into a socket, and not nearly as foolproof either.

“Please turn off all devices with transmitters”

Scene: Sitting next to a woman with a very fancy pair of Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones on a very, very, oh so very long flight. Which, at 15 hours and change, isn’t even in the top 10 longest flights in the world; itineraries reserved for true masochists.

Up, up, and do you need a pair of $1 earphones that will make you wish you had remembered to pack your own, sir?

“All electronic devices with a transmitter must be switched to flight-safe mode,” says the friendly voice over the speaker. “If the device does not have a flight-safe mode it must be switched off for the duration of the flight.”

The woman presses the call button, calling over a flight attendant.

“Uhm… I have these Bluetooth headphones,” she said, pointing to them seconds after she unboxed them, obviously having recently procured them from the Tax Free shop. “Can I use them on the flight?” she asks.

“I would need to check for you,” comes the answer. In this case, the airline was British Airways, and they do allow the use of Bluetooth accessories after takeoff and before landing. Most airlines are enlightened enough to allow Bluetooth headphones these days, but it does vary from airline to airline. READ MORE HERE

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