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OneZero
The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

Airpods

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Many of us on the OneZero editorial team have at previous jobs spent months fending off PR agencies pitching gadgets of questionable use and longevity in order to produce an annual Holiday Gadget Gift Guide that may or may not have been littered with affiliate codes.

This is not that.

This year Dave Gershgorn convinced the members of our team to tell him about the service or gadget that helped them endure this year. Yes, you might see AirPods, iPads, and Nintendo Switches on this list, but you’ll also see color-changing lightbulbs, deck-building video games (I had to look that…


How to use Apple’s signature noise-canceling earbuds to drop into a creative flow

A close up shot of AirPods Pro in between its packaging box and a pink notebook.
A close up shot of AirPods Pro in between its packaging box and a pink notebook.
Photo: Daniel Romero/Unsplash

I am always looking for hacks that allow me to get into the zone faster, stay there longer, and increase my creative output. Here’s a new trick that has been working for me lately.

You may recall my previous advice on how to trigger flow with coffee. The idea here is the same. Our bodies are programmable, and if we are intentional about the inputs we allow into our system, we can optimize how we experience the world. …


The new product means a lot to Apple’s business—and our planet

Credit: Apple

Apple just announced a substantial addition to its popular AirPods lineup: a $249 noise-canceling set called the AirPods Pro. Unlike the previous versions, which cost $159 and didn’t quite dip into your ear canal, these feature an “in-ear” design that should isolate your music and phone calls.

There are, of course, unanswered questions. How will they sound? Will the wider charging case stretch denim pockets to an unreasonable degree? Will the soft earbud tips get lodged in your ear, forcing you to run panicked into a Walgreens to purchase a set of emergency tweezers, praying to some power above that…


An utterly cheesy, totally true essay about wireless earphones

Photo: Photographer and videographer/Getty Images

The first time I saw a pair of AirPods in a pair of ears, I thought they were a joke. They were so absurd looking as to be hilarious, and my best guess was that my friend, a tech journalist who’d gotten his hands on a loaner set well before launch, had for some reason snipped his buds from their tangled wires and put them in his ears to amuse me. We sat across from each other in the TIME newsroom, where we worked back then; he’s a bit of a joker, and I’m an easy laugh.

After he explained…


Apple finally opens up about their complicated afterlife

Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty

AirPod owners love them. Everyone else, it can seem, hates them. Apple is, by all indications, selling oodles of them. But what happens to AirPods when they get old and die? Does the same seamless design that helped to make them iconic also make them an environmental abomination?

It’s a question a growing number of critics are asking as the Bluetooth buds nestle their way into ever more ears. Based on my conversations with e-waste recyclers, repairability experts, and Apple itself, however, the answer is neither as straightforward as you might hope nor quite as grim as you might fear.


Microprocessing

It’s all about the fit and the background noise

Photo: Stephen Lam/Getty

In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today, to give you a better tomorrow.

AirPods are everywhere — even though they’re pretty awful at what they do.

This style of earbud, which rests next to your ear canal but not quite inside it, offers practically zero noise isolation. In other words, AirPods, by far the most popular wireless earbuds, do a poor job overpowering noise like chattering colleagues or teens on the subway. …


Microprocessing

Here’s what lives on your grimy earbuds — and how to clean them

Illustration by Julian Glander

In Microprocessing, columnist Angela Lashbrook aims to improve your relationship with technology every week. Microprocessing goes deep on the little things that define your online life today, to give you a better tomorrow.

Take a good look at your earbuds. Is the mesh clogged with earwax? Is there a strip of dirt or lint lining the plastic seams? Maybe there’s even an oddly intense and dark dust clinging to the interior edges of your AirPods case.

If your earbuds are disgusting, know this first: no shame. This is an obscenely common issue, an element of high-tech hygiene that is, oddly…


The Upgrade

As the iPhone becomes less relevant, the wearables will rise

Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty

Few Apple products have suffered the undue scorn and ridicule endured by AirPods.

Introduced in late 2016, Apple’s first wireless, Bluetooth earbuds were at first a joke and a meme machine. People thought they looked ridiculous and were certain they’d fall out of your ears and vanish without a trace.

Pictures of me wearing them from the launch event popped up here and there, often with an accompanying laughter emoji.


A great product gets better with hands-free Siri

It’s no longer necessary to answer the question “Why AirPods?” Apple’s wireless earphones are among its most popular — and important — products. Apple asserts they are the most popular wireless headphones in the world.

There is, barring a major product misstep, no place to go from here but up, which is why Apple chose a pair of small yet important updates for its second-generation AirPods, or AirPods 2. One is inside the wireless headphones themselves and the other in the floss-container-shaped case.

To start, Apple finally delivered the long-rumored wireless charging case. It looks almost exactly like the original…

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