Apple’s innovative W1 chip is a big deal, but I fear it will also be a missed opportunity

“Of all the things that Apple announced during the iPhone 7 launch, the W1 chip actually impressed me most,” Ben Lovejoy writes for 9to5Mac.

“The W1 chip certainly solves the pairing problem. Those present at the event reported that pairing was instant. Propagating that pairing across all your Apple devices via iCloud is also a huge step forward,” Lovejoy writes. “Apple has also confirmed on its website that the protocol improves battery-life. Beats Solo 2 headphones offer 12 hours of battery-life, while the Beats Solo 3 – which include the new chip – claim 40 hours. Apple states that the improvement is ‘driven by the efficiency of the Apple W1 chip.’”

“It would be fantastic to see Apple license W1 chips to other headphone companies, much as it does the Lightning connector. That would allow other manufacturers to offer the same instant pairing, increased battery-life and improved reliability,” Lovejoy writes. “Sadly, however, my suspicion is that this won’t be the case. Without the Beats acquisition, Apple probably would have licensed the tech, as it would want consumers to have a wider choice of headphones than its own AirPods. But as the owner of Beats, it will likely want to keep the shiny new tech to itself.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We shall see, but that’s a legitimate concern since there are certainly better headphone, earphone, and earbud makers than Apple or (especially) Beats in this world.

What AirPods can tell us about Apple’s future – September 12, 2016
Hands-on with Apple’s new AirPods: Stayed in my ears, sounded awesome – September 10, 2016
Apple and a truly wireless future: AirPods are just the start – September 10, 2016


  1. I wish I could have to devices listen to one iPhone at a time wirelessly.

    When I go running with my partner, it would be nice if we could wirelessly listen to the same music stream. Plus, I use an app that tells me our pace every 1/2 mile. If we both listen to the same music stream, we both could hear the app tell us our pace too.

    1. Interesting idea. I frequently see kids splitting a pair of earbuds to share a music or video experience. With wireless airpods Apple can easily expand sharing options within the BT operational range. Just authorize the extra pair(s) of airpods and everything works. BT speakers could work the same way – just slide the output from your airpods to the speakers, or have both active at the same time.

      I like the idea. I like it a lot.

    2. This is a feature that would be sorely missed on future droids since we know they’ll all be wireless head phones as well soon.

      Apple should really get on that, it’s a great example of why the classic head phone jack was so utterly archaic that it had to die.

      I sincerely hope they do this post haste.

      I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me before because it seems so classically Apple. Simple and obvious but only because someone showed you how it could be done first.

  2. Questions:

    Q: Does Apple want the entire computer industry to adopt Lightning, and why?
    A: Yes of course, because Apple will benefit from the resulting wide variety of compatible devices.

    Q: Does Apple want the entire computer industry to adopt the W1 chip, and why?
    A: NO of course, because Apple would NOT benefit from the resulting wide variety of compatible devices. Apple wants to keep W1 compatible device sales to themselves.

    So DUH.

    1. I don’t think Apple is pushing lightening headphones. They are pushing wireless, with a bonus of lightening recharging for Apple wireless.

      In order of importance:

      1) Wireless with W1. Super convenient and advanced features.
      2) Wireless with regular bluetooth headphones.
      3) Wired analog, with adapter
      4) Wired lightening

      The last option works but I cannot imagine will ever be popular compared to the first three because it is so inflexible in terms of compatibility, and has no advantage over analog audio (with a cheap $8 adapter or wireless.

      1. I don’t think you understand what a Lightning port does.

        A Lightning cable isn’t just a passive set of wires feeding analogue signals to the phones. The cable is an active device itself that communicates with the iPhone to request any available signal on any available pin. For the $8 adapter, it requests a stereo analogue signal, but it can also ask for digital audio or video in a variety of formats.

        So, for professional headphones, the cable can provide digital audio at the maximum quality available from the device, suitable for Digital Audio Processing to transform the signal as desired before the last digital-analog conversion has its output fed to the earphone or speaker transducers.

        That has a lot of advantages over analog audio.

      2. Excellent points. Over time, there will certainly be pressure to get rid of the wires.

        Back in 1980, Gary Numan wrote and recorded the excellent song “I Dream of Wires“, as sung by ‘the last electrician alive’. It’s insightful of where Nikola Tesla intended us to go over a century ago. The best rendition of the song IMHO is by Robert Palmer:

    2. As to the second question/answer, I think the W1 chip holds more possibilities then just head phone/audio. Time to start checking the patent and background specs to see if it could replace/reduce the use of blue tooth either in cost and/or power consumption.

      Could be used for keyboards, cars, imagine a mouse for your phone? Ha.

      1. Once the AirPods are released we will undoubtedly have access to the specs. The word so far is that the W1 is using Bluetooth plus a method of added bandwidth in order to provide adequate audio transmission quality (unlike lousy Bluetooth alone).

        This strategy is NOT new. There are other quality wireless earphones that use similar add-on bandwidth to Bluetooth. In that respect, Apple is following the trend. Once the AirPods are released there will certainly be comparison tests between them and other wide bandwidth earphones. I can hardly wait. It would be very Apple if they’d optimized the added bandwidth for superior quality. We shall see.

        Isn’t it a shame that Bluetooth Special Interest Group couldn’t get their act together years ago to have accomplished the same. Highly silly.

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