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New Apple AirPods: What You Need to Know

The strangest products introduced by Apple today at its glitzy San Francisco media event were the AirPods, a pair of wireless earbuds that aren't connected to each other by a cord. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, introduced at the same event, lack a 3.5-mm audio jack. The phones will come with a conventional-looking pair of earbuds that will connect using the Lightning port. And the AirPods, designed to complement the new phones, will be available in October for $159.

Do AirPods only work with the iPhone 7? 
Nope, Apple made it clear during its event that the new earbuds would also pair to the Apple Watch Series 2 and other Apple products. 

How about older iPhones?
Yes. Consumer Reports has confirmed that AirPods should work the same with any device running iOS 10. According to Apple's site, iPhone 5 and later models can upgrade to the new operating system. (AirPods will also work with Apple Watches running watchOS 3, and Macs running macOS Sierra.)

Will they work with non-Apple devices?
Apple name drops its proprietary new W1 chip whenever it discusses the AirPods, but don't be confused: They use the Bluetooth protocol, and the AirPods should stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled phone. (They won't, however, automatically pair with those devices as they will with Apple products.) 

What is the W1 chip?
This is a processor in the AirPods that help them juggle varied tasks. The chip works with other sensors in the device to manage the earbud's connections and functions. For instance, it helps the AirPods intelligently switch from one input device to another (say from an iPhone to an Apple Watch), and to automatically turn on the microphone during a phone call. 

So, this is another thing to charge?
Yes. The AirPods have a claimed battery life of five hours—which means they may not last for an entire cross-country flight, let alone a full day away from home. The earbuds can, however, be recharged by a battery built into their carrying case, and that’s supposed to let you spend an additional 24 hours away from an outlet. The case and the earbuds can be charged at the same time through a Lightning port.

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