Apple introduces the new W1 chip
During the September iPhone launch event Apple unveiled the new wireless Airpods. These were designed to go hand in hand with the removal of the classic 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7.
The common complaint about wireless headphones and earbuds is that they use Bluetooth to connect to devices. The problem is that for a lot of people, the Bluetooth connection is not reliable. Common issues are dropped connections, pairing issues, difficulties in reconnecting after a disconnection etc.
In order to fix this issue, Apple designed a new wireless chip called the W1. This chip is what the Airpods and the new wireless lineup of its other brand Beats Audio use to connect to Apple’s devices. Initially, it was thought that it could only connect to the new iPhone, but it turns out that it can connect to existing iPhone and Mac as long as they can run the latest OS’s for each platform.
The W1 still uses Bluetooth for connectivity, but Apple has fixed some of the issues from the standard by creating a different pairing and connection protocol on top of the stack. The end result is that the new W1 powered headphones can connect to any older hardware. In addition, they can also connect using the standard Bluetooth to non-Apple devices.
What remains to be seen is if Apple will sell the W1 chip to other manufacturers or keep it only for in-house products. Considering how much more convenient and reliable the pairing process becomes, it would most likely achieve widespread adoption.