More than three months after Apple announced AirPods – its wireless Bluetooth earphones – the company has failed to deliver. Literally.
In a recent Wall Street Journal report, the core of the problem seems to be a technical challenge that others in the industry, such as Samsung, continue to struggle with. Essentially, the two ear pieces aren’t able to receive the Bluetooth signal at the same time.
This syncing problem is not unique, and has been there for quite a while now. Even other companies such as Doppler Labs have this issue, but they all have different workarounds to solve this problem of signal inconsistency.
For example, Bragi and Doppler Labs use something called Near-Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI). Still others use a low-energy protocol to achieve some sort of stability. But Apple’s problem is apparently not yet resolved, reportedly because of the W1 chip inside the ear pieces that’s also found on many other Beats products.
The problem is that a Bluetooth signal currently can’t be sent to multiple devices at the same time. Although the Bluetooth Special Interest Group – where Apple has a seat on the board – is currently working on an update to allow simultaneous signal transmission, that’s not due until next year at least.
Apple continues to struggle with the issue. The WSJ report suggests that thy’ve cracked the problem of sending the signal to both earpieces at the same time, but the delay indicates that they haven’t yet solved the sync problem.
The tech used by other companies isn’t 100% reliable, as anyone with bluetooth earphones where the ear pieces aren’t physically connected to each other will know. That means Apple won’t want to use any of those technologies and deliver a product with sub-optimal performance, obviously.
There has been no word from Apple about when the issue might be resolved, so don’t expect to see AirPods at your local Apple store any time soon.
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