One of my favourite and most used secondary products are my AirPods, I use these for at least an hour a day so any new phone needs to work with these. During my Android experiment I would expect Android to also do the same, at least in the short term until I could find something better. So I have been using Apple AirPods with my Pixel 2 XL (AKA The Panda) for a few days and the results are surprisingly positive.

In Use

In order to pair the AirPods you have to do it the good old fashioned way, through the setting menu while pressing and holding the small button on the back of the cary case. Once paired, simply opening the case and tapping on the AirPods in the settings menu pairs almost instantly. When you’re done just put them back in the case and shut the lid, they the disconnect by themselves.

When pairing with any other device you will lose the functionality of the W1 chip. This theoretically means that the battery life may be a little worse, the signal may not be as strong and connection may suffer. However in real use I have not experienced any of these theoretical issues. The Bluetooth signal has remained much stronger than traditional Bluetooth headphones and there have been zero issues with sound breaking up whilst walking around my office building.

Even the accelerometer works! Double tapping one of the earbuds will pause audio, because the act of taking out one of them does not pause audio like it does when using with iOS. If you want to expand this to use other actions such as launching Google Assistant there are few apps available for Android such as AirpodsForGA.

This is going to surprise absolutely no-one, the sound from the AirPods is exactly the same as with iOS. If you’ve used a pair of EarPods as a temp measure when you can’t find yours then they will sound familiar. They let in a certain level of ambient noise, which is great when using while walking as you’ll still be aware of whats going on around you. Thats not so great when you want to block out the noise going on around you.

Locked In

The one downside is you now need to keep a lightning cable around to charge up your earphones. I have similar gripes when using some Beats headphones with iOS and it is getting dam annoying. Granted these are aimed at iOS users and this whole issue is moot, but why can’t everything just have USB-C and be done with it. The larger issue here is ecosystem lock in, and the complexity of escaping from it.

This is the issue that most users will face now. No longer is switching your OS of choice a simple task. Gone are the days that importing your contacts is the most complicated thing. I have a range of satellite devices that would need replacing should I ever choose to switch. Google are making a great push into these sorts of devices with the Pixel Buds, and it is exciting times to see what they produce. However in the mean time it might be worth seriously considering some AirPods for use with your Android phone.