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Apple Starts Shipping AirPods Wireless Earbuds After Embarrassing Delay

Variety logo Variety 12/13/2016 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

Apple on Tuesday said it’s finally ready to ship AirPods, the $159 wireless earbuds for its new iPhone 7, after a two-month delay — a rare product misstep for the company.

However, the tech giant said, AirPods “will be shipping in limited quantities at launch and customers are encouraged to check online for updates on availability and estimated delivery dates.” Previously, Apple had said they would be available beginning in late October.

Apple’s iPhone 7 omits a traditional 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, which SVP of marketing Phil Schiller had said during the September launch was a decision that “comes down to one word: courage, the courage to move on to do something that betters all of us.” He noted that the change reduces the components required in the smartphone. Alternatively, users also can connect the iPhone 7 to wireless earbuds via Bluetooth, and the device also includes an adapter to connect conventional headphones.

Meanwhile, Apple appears to be hitting a delay with the BeatsX wireless headphones: An email from retailer B&H Photo this week to customers who pre-ordered the $150 device said it will take “at least 2-3 months” to ship.

On Tuesday, Apple announced that AirPods are available to order online now from apple.com and will start delivering them to customers and arriving at Apple Stores, authorized resellers and select carriers next week.

Apple calls the AirPods “magical,” but critics have dinged them as weird-looking and prone to getting lost. The Bluetooth-based earbuds connect to an iPhone 7 with a single tap. AirPods are immediately set up with all the devices signed into a user’s iCloud account, including Apple Watch, iPad and Mac. Sensors detect when AirPods are in your ear and can automatically play and pause your music. Double tapping on AirPods activates Siri, allowing you to access the personal assistant to select and control music, get directions, make and receive calls, or perform other tasks.

The AirPods, which come with a charging case, will be available in more than 100 countries and territories including the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Japan, UAE and the U.K.

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