In the two and a half years since they were first released, Apple's AirPods have undergone a remarkable transformation. What started out as Q-tip-shaped curiosities have become a full-blown millennial status symbol. Now memes run rampant and a YouTuber can clear 600,000 views with a "proposal" video involving Apple's wireless earbuds. (What I can say? The future we live in is weird sometimes.)
Beyond their newfound coolness, these earbuds have also brought Apple considerable financial success: A recent report suggests that the AirPods are the most popular wireless headphones in the world, and some would-be rivals have dropped out of the market entirely because of their dominance. I doubt even Apple saw this kind of cultural and commercial impact coming.
With all that said, Apple had to produce a follow-up. It's safe to say, though, that these $160 second-generation AirPods aren't exactly what some of the company's fans have been hoping for. Their design hasn't changed so not everyone will find them particularly comfortable, and Apple hasn't done much (if anything) to improve the audio quality. Instead, Apple chose to focus on what made the AirPods so pleasant to use in the first place: their dead-simple convenience. That might not be the most exciting upgrade for people who already have AirPods, but it does mean Apple's second-gen wireless earbuds are a stronger choice than ever for people who haven't taken the plunge yet.