Apple’s W1 Bluetooth chip explained

“Apple’s AirPods aren’t just special because they are one of the few ‘truly wireless’ earbud headphones available — models with separate left and right earpieces that aren’t tethered together with a cable,” Sharon Profis writes for CNET. “Along with three Beats headphones (the PowerBeats3 Wireless, the Solo3 Wireless and the BeatsX) they’re one of only a handful of products that incorporate Apple’s new W1 chip, a teeny-tiny piece of hardware that will make your forget how awful pairing over Bluetooth can be.”

“Like the A-series chips that power iPhones and iPads, the W1 is custom Apple-designed silicon,” Profis writes. “In addition to standard Bluetooth 4.1 streaming and advanced power management, the chip adds a host of key features unique to the AirPods, including balancing all of that sophisticated syncing (between the two earpieces, the case and the audio source) with the sensor inputs (automatically pausing music if you remove one from your ear).”

iPhone 7 with Apple's AirPods
iPhone 7 with Apple’s AirPods

“The big advantage of W1-enabled headphones is that ‘they just work’ — when you’re using them with a compatible Apple device,” Profis writes. “You probably noticed that the only W1 headphones available are made by Apple or its Beats subsidiary. Apple hasn’t expressed intentions to license the W1 chip, so don’t expect W1 headphones from Bose or the like anytime soon.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Magical.

Apple’s W1-equipped wireless BeatsX earphones ship Feb. 10 – February 7, 2017
Powerbeats3 with Apple W1 chip are the most reliable Bluetooth headphones ever – December 3, 2016
Apple’s remarkable new A10, S2, W1 chips alter the semiconductor landscape – September 15, 2016
Hands-on: Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones with Apple’s magical new W1 chip – September 15, 2016
Apple’s innovative W1 chip is a big deal, but I fear it will also be a missed opportunity – September 12, 2016
iPhone 7/Plus is a $5 billion opportunity for Beats – September 8, 2016
Apple reinvents the wireless headphone with AirPods – September 7, 2016


  1. My AirPods have a great connection once they are connected, but they cannot connect to two devices at once. I have to manually switch between devices in control center. My Bose QC 35s don’t have quite as reliable of a connection, but they can be connected to two devices at once. I can play audio from my Mac or iPhone and that’s it. This functionality is far more useful for me than the reliability of the W1 chip. It’s something I expected from the start with AirPods. Hopefully this can be added with firmware.

      1. I put on my QC 35s, slid on the BT switch, and it said to
        me “battery 100%, connected to iPadS, connected to Apple
        TV”. Turning on either iPad or TV will automatically connect
        them. So cool. Unless this feature is proprietary, it could
        and should be enabled on the W1 chip via software update.

        1. It isn’t an uncommon feature. But most bluetooth devices don’t support it.

          The AirPods are supposed to auto connect to all your devices that use the same iCloud account though and switch between them automatically.

          1. Sadly, this does not include the Apple TV. While you can use them with Apple TV, you have to go into the settings and connect them. Then I have trouble using them again with my phone and end up having to go into the settings and connect them to the phone. I hope they are still working on this because it’s not great yet.

            1. I haven’t seen anything like automatic switching with my AirPods. Between my Macbook Air and my iPhone 6+ I have to select the AirPods in blueetooth settings or control center if I was listening on the other device previously. Many times I’ve had my AirPods on and pressed play on a podcast or audiobook on my iPhone and the audio starts playing out of the iPhone because they were connected to the Mac before.

  2. Apple should definitely license the W1 if at feasible. The more high quality headphones available with the W1 features the better for iPhone users and the brand overall.

    1. I’ve got AirPods,Beats X (coming next Wednesday),and
      Bose QC 35. All bases covered from bars that play
      juke box at full volume to ordinary conversation
      volume that I want to shut out to ability to use
      earphones while listening to background talk.
      W1 chip in the Bose would be nice. Not an
      earth shaking improvement buy still welcome.
      When I want to “critically” listen to music or dialogue
      and shut out all else, the QC 35s are the best.

      1. I have both AirPods and QC 35s as well. There’s no way to connect to two devices at once for the AirPods as there is with Bose right? Probably my favorite feature of the QC35s is that I can have them connected to both my Mac and iPhone, whereas the AirPods apparently can’t do this.

  3. Apple probably shouldn’t license any technology it can’t fully control. Does Apple really need to license tech? There are so many claims how Apple is behind the hardware curve of Samsung and how Apple can’t keep up with the rest of the industry. Would other companies even want to license Apple tech? In this case, it would be foolish to increase competition to their own Beats brand of headphones.

  4. Love the AirPods, but the optical sensor seems to be seriously over-sensitive. The AirPods stay in my ears just fine and don’t feel like they’re moving, but I get constant pauses in my music. The only solution is to turn in-ear detection off. Unfortunately, that feature is only available on iOS devices and not on Macs, so I either have to put up with the pauses or use a wired headset on my Mac. (And for those who know me, I tried with my hearing aids both in and out- the AirPods did better with my CIC hearing aids in, lol).

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