It's been three months since Apple's AirPods was unveiled, but the Cupertino company still hasn't shipped the Siri-enabled wireless earphones to the general public, supposed to have already launched by the end of October.
It turns that Apple might possibly protract stockpiling of AirPods further. The prolonged delay, according to new reports, stem from a manufacturing problem, possibly barring the AirPods from a 2016 release.
Apple formally delayed the AirPods in October behind a vague put-off, saying that it "needs more time." Apple has since failed to issue any official word on what caused dents in the planned October release.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, however, the AirPods are currently having Bluetooth connectivity problems, a possibly product-breaking snag if left unfixed, since AirPods utilizes Bluetooth technology to function properly.
AirPods' Bluetooth Problems
Traditionally, most wireless earphones receive only one signal from the paired phone via Bluetooth, with the receiving earpiece then transmitting the signal to the other. AirPods doesn't work this way. Apple has said that each AirPods earpiece receives independent signals from the iDevices it's paired with. Before Apple can let AirPods loose, it must first ensure that both earpieces receive signals simultaneously, and it seems that the AirPods' seamless Bluetooth connectivity still hasn't been perfected yet.
As per the WSJ, citing a person close to production of AirPods, the AirPods needs to receive audio at the same time, otherwise a distortion would occur. Apple must also solve other problematic scenarios such as losing one of the earpieces or if the battery dies.
Another potential problem is related to the AirPods' supposed seamless integration with Siri, which can only be executed if the AirPods successfully picks up a user voice despite surrounding audio disruptions or noise.
Indoors, Bluetooth works well because the signal can be contained. Outdoors is a different conversation entirely. In sparse areas, Bluetooth signals have difficulty bouncing off objects, struggling to deliver sound performance, according to Nick Hunn, a Bluetooth expert.
The delay, according to Hunn, must be a big deal for Apple bigwigs, since it's causing them to skip the very lucrative Christmas market. A product delay spanning three months (and counting) after an unveiling is an unusually long time, at least for Apple. The company hasn't postponed any product since the iPhone 4 in 2010.
Manufacturing Problem Instead Of A Technical Problem
John Gruber, an Apple blogger, has rebuked the WSJ's new report touting that the AirPods are having a technical-related problem, calling the rest of the aforementioned article "useless speculation."
Apple has already fixed the issues cited by the WSJ, according to Gruber, and the reason behind the delay is that the AirPods has encountered an unexpected manufacturing problem at scale.
"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," wrote Gruber.
When Will Apple Release The AirPods?
It's still uncertain when Apple will finally make the AirPods available to the public. A Barclays analyst said in November that production would start December, but Apple hasn't given any details since. On different sections of its website, the AirPods are currently listed as "coming soon" or "currently unavailable."
The Apple AirPods, when released, will retail for $159.