Apple today reiterated its belief that "Music is in our DNA" by making a series of announcements that really point to the company's commitment to sound. Not only do the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus include stereo speakers built-in, but they'll also come with new Lightning EarPods. The biggest news, though, was the introduction of wireless AirPods and new Beats wireless headphones.
The AirPods (seen above) look oddly like a pair of EarPods with the cables broken off. Those long "probes" (for lack of a better name) contain beamforming microphones that apparently do a very good job at picking up voice tones. Inside each AirPod is a custom Apple W1 chip to provide up to 5 hours of battery life in each 'pod, allow use of one or both AirPods, and switch between any number of sound sources automatically after a simple pairing process.
That process looks pretty magical: take the AirPods out of their charging case and the iPhone or Apple Watch shows a simple button to tap. Once that's done, an iCloud sync adds the information to all of your Apple devices.
Double-tapping either AirPod will bring up Siri; I am dubious of this, since I've had other "tap-controlled" devices (both wearable cameras) that are quite temperamental when trying to double tap them. However, if anyone is going to get it right, it's Apple.
The AirPods will be available in late October for $159.
Next, the EarPods with Lightning Connector ($29) seem to be upsetting the world since they signal that the day of the 3.5-mm audio jack is past. What Lightning connections to audio gear do is open the world to third-party Lightning earphones with noise cancellation, such as the JBL Reflect Aware headset that's already available. The EarPods will be included with every iPhone 7, along with an $9 Lightning to 3.5 mm headphone adapter for those who are loudly whining about the changes.
Finally, Beats wasn't left out of the game. The Apple subsidiary announced three new wireless headphones, all with Apple's W1 chip! The Beats Solo3 Wireless ($299.95) boasts 40 hours of listening time, the Powerbeats 3 ($199.95) provide up to 12 hours of listening and are perfect for workouts, and the $149.95 BeatsX can provide tunes for up to 8 hours in a surprisingly lightweight design.