Over the better part of the last year, I have used my Apple AirPods nearly daily. A workday or a workout does not go by without these little bits of magic feeding me music or podcasts. In a world where ridiculous technology is commonplace, AirPods really feel like something from the future. They have completely replaced my perception of earphones.
Previously, the prospect of pulling out wired headphones and unwrapping them (or in moderately frequently unfortunate occasions, untangling them) was time-consuming enough that I had to weigh the cost against the benefit of using them. For that reason, I'd often only break them out for longer podcast or music-listening sessions. And then I dedicated a bit of time to wrap them back up (or in moderately frequently unfortunate occasions, stuffing them in my pocket or bag). With AirPods, I pull out the case, retrieve the buds, and I'm ready to go with much less cognitive load.
Additional benefits include the ability to share without cord limitations, like watching Rogue One with my wife in a hotel room and a sleeping baby six feet away. Simple things like listening to a podcast while cooking or cleaning without the need to carry my phone around feel a little magical.
The AirPods are my first Bluetooth headphones and I was somewhat concerned about battery life. That is essentially a nonissue.
The most valuable feature, in my opinion, is the hybrid case/charger. The symbiotic relationship between the buds' dedicated home in the case and the case charging the buds is the ultimate in convenience. If the AirPods are put away, they are charging. This has the effect of battery life being virtually infinite in practical use.
But you have to charge the case, I hear you asking. That's true, but it's not very often—as the case holds a bunch of juice, it's extremely fast to charge, and the modern availability of Lightening cables makes it convenient. In practical use, I charge it at my desk at work, once a week or so, when I notice the battery's around 50%. I use the same Lightning cable I have handy for charging my phone, mouse, and keyboard.
I have only run out of battery life in the buds once (a bit of music followed by watching the 2.5 hour WWDC keynote). I have never run out of battery life in the case. In the rare case that I'm getting low, it's easy to use one and charge the other, swapping them out a few minutes later.
One of my bigger initial concerns was keeping the AirPods in my ear. This is not a problem in the slightest. The light weight of the buds and the lack of a cord to weigh them down and get snagged on things is fantastic.
My first experience working out with AirPods was a bike ride (I only wore one earbud). I was nervous, but I shouldn't have been. It stayed put easily. Since then, I've walked, run, mowed, done yard work, and more and they have never fallen out of my ears.
Visually, they might look silly, I suppose, but that is a question for others to answer. I do not mind the look, and I have gotten very used to seeing them, so I do not see an issue with the appearance.
I am not much of an audiophile, but the AirPods sound fine to my ears. They get moderately loud (I can hear them over our gas-powered push mower) and I enjoy listening to both music and podcasts with them. Being earbuds, there is no noise-cancelling of course. They are comparable to Apple's wired earbuds.
I am pretty solidly baked in to the Apple ecosystem and AirPods reward that with convenience. Once I paired them with my phone, my computer, iPad, and Watch knew about them. Switching between devices is easy and only takes a few clicks.
AirPods have quickly become one of the most important pieces of equipment I use daily. Along with my phone, keys, and wallet, they are something I carry with me every day. I feel a little naked without them.