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Now for the i-bud

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Apple this week launched the AirPods, its answer to the plethora of wireless earphones that are quickly replacing the wired variety.

Apple this week introduced AirPods, innovative new wireless headphones that use advanced technology for listening to music, make phone calls, enjoy TV shows and movies, play games and interact with Siri.

Like many of its competitors, AirPods eliminate the hassles of wireless headphones. However, it simplifies the process: by flipping open the lid of its charging case and with one tap, they are instantly set up to work with the iPhone and Apple Watch.

Apple says advanced sensors know when the user is listening and automatically play and pause the music. It is equippd with a new ultra-low power Apple W1 chip, which enables AirPods to deliver high-quality audio and battery life in a wireless design. AirPods will be available starting in late October.

“AirPods are the first headphones to deliver a breakthrough wireless audio experience, and with the new Apple W1 chip they deliver innovative features including high quality sound, great battery life and automatic setup,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “AirPods are simple and magical to use, with no switches or buttons, automatically connecting to all your Apple devices simply and seamlessly, and letting you access Siri with just a double tap. We can’t wait for users to try them with iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2.”

Apple provided the following information:

With AirPods, setting up and using wireless headphones has never been easier. Just open the charging case near your iPhone and with a simple tap, AirPods are immediately set up with all the devices signed into your iCloud account, including your iPad and Mac. AirPods are connected and ready to go when you are, just put them in your ears when you want to listen. AirPods can intelligently and seamlessly switch from a call on your iPhone to listening to music on your Apple Watch.

The all new Apple W1 chip enables the groundbreaking innovations in AirPods, with dual optical sensors and accelerometers in each AirPod that work with the W1 chip to detect when AirPods are in your ear, so they only play when you are ready to listen. Simply remove them to automatically pause the music, or just remove one to have a conversation and automatically resume when you put it back. Access Siri with a double tap to your AirPods to select and control your music, change the volume, check your battery life or perform any other Siri task. An additional accelerometer in each AirPod detects when you’re speaking, enabling a pair of beam-forming microphones to focus on the sound of your voice, filtering out external noise to make your voice sound clearer than ever before.

The ultra-low power Apple W1 chip operates at one-third of the power of traditional wireless chips, enabling AirPods to deliver up to 5 hours of listening time on one charge. The custom-designed charging case holds additional charges, for an industry-leading more than 24 hours of total listening time,* ensuring AirPods are charged and ready to go whenever you are.

Pricing & Availability

• The new Apple-designed wireless AirPods including charging case will be available for $159 from Apple.com and Apple Stores beginning in late October.

• AirPods require Apple devices running iOS 10, watchOS 3 or macOS Sierra.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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