AirPods Delay Attributed to Apple Ensuring Both Earpieces Receive Audio at Same Time [Updated]

AirPods were originally slated to launch in October, but the wireless earphones were later delayed. Apple said it needed "a little more time" before they are ready for customers, and it has yet to provide an official update since.

While the exact reason for the delay remains unclear, a person familiar with the development of AirPods told The Wall Street Journal that Apple's troubles appear to be related to its "efforts to chart a new path for wireless headphones," in addition to resolving what happens when users lose one of the earpieces or the battery dies.
A person familiar with the development of the AirPod said the trouble appears to stem from Apple’s effort to chart a new path for wireless headphones. In most other wireless headphones, only one earpiece receives a signal from the phone via wireless Bluetooth technology; it then transmits the signal to the other earpiece.

Apple has said AirPod earpieces each receive independent signals from an iPhone, Mac or other Apple device. But Apple must ensure that both earpieces receive audio at the same time to avoid distortion, the person familiar with their development said. That person said Apple also must resolve what happens when a user loses one of the earpieces or the battery dies.
Last month, Barclays analysts said AirPods should enter production in December. Their research note said quantities would be limited to between 10 and 15 million AirPods to start. Meanwhile, an alleged email response from Apple CEO Tim Cook said AirPods should begin shipping over the "next few weeks."

With just two weeks remaining in the holiday shopping season, some believe Apple should now wait until the new year to launch AirPods, in line with an early rumor about a January 2017 launch. The wireless earphones remain listed as both "coming soon" and "currently unavailable" on different sections of Apple's website.

Update: Apple blogger John Gruber says he's heard that manufacturing issues have delayed the AirPods, rather than a technical problem.
It makes more sense to me that Apple has run into a manufacturing problem, not that they discovered a design defect after they were announced.

"More difficult to manufacture at scale than expected" is also what I've heard through the grapevine, from a little birdie who knows someone on the AirPods engineering team. Things like what happens when you lose one or the battery dies -- Apple solved those problems during development.

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Top Rated Comments

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39 months ago
Maybe they should have had these completely ready to go before removing the headphone jack on their phone?
Rating: 139 Votes
39 months ago
how was this not among the first things addressed in its development?
Rating: 117 Votes
39 months ago
Easy to fix. Simply use a wire to connect the pods. Oh wait...
Rating: 76 Votes
39 months ago
Tim Cook should really step down. Whoever he put in charge of product testing/development should be fired.
Rating: 69 Votes
39 months ago
AirPods......each sold separately.

problem solved!
Rating: 52 Votes
39 months ago
So Apple is announcing product releases before they've even completed the design and engineering phase?
Rating: 35 Votes
39 months ago
I'm a hardware engineer. It seems like every single bluetooth project I work on gets delayed for various reasons (unreliable smartphone bluetooth drivers) where every single non-bluetooth project stays on schedule.
Rating: 33 Votes
39 months ago

Anyone have a mirror to the article without the greedy paywall?

How dare the Wall Street Journal want paying for their work. Because, clearly, all their staff work for free.

Anyone know how I can get an iPhone without the greedy purchase price?
Rating: 32 Votes
39 months ago

Here come the people complaining about Apple taking too long to test something before release...

I'd say the issue is more that they announced them, announced a release date (month) and removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 before fully testing them and getting them market-ready.

They can test them for a ten years if they want, just don't tell us all about them until they're ready.
Rating: 27 Votes
39 months ago
That's... a good thing to fix?

How did they get this far in development -- with a planned release date in October -- with such a major issue?!

Is announcing stuff 3 months in advance 2016 marketing?!

Has Kickstarter influenced the minds of executives worldwide?!

Rating: 26 Votes

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