What does the W1 chip do?

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A look at the custom-made chip inside the new wireless AirPods…
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What does the W1 chip do?

Get to know iPhone 7's W1 chip

At the iPhone 7 launch event, Apple revealed its revolutionary wireless headphones, AirPods. Inside the headphones, there’s a custom-made wireless communication chip called the W1 running the show. Let’s take a look at what it's capable of…

What does the W1 chip control?

There are three main sensors working in the AirPods, to make sure you recieve a premium audio experience. Let's met the gang...

  • Motion sensors can calculate when one (or both) of your AirPods buds are in your ear
  • Infra-red sensors are the small dots you can see on either side of the AirPod’s speaker ports. They work together with the motion sensors to work out when you've put a bud in your ear
  • Voice accelerometers recognise when you’re speaking, so when you're on the phone, or speaking to Siri, your music won't get in the way

What can AirPods do?

With the W1 chip managing the sensors mentioned above, AirPods are capable of doing some groundbreaking stuff:

  • They can work out whether they’re in or out of your ear. Because of this, they can pause playback when you take one out.
  • They can detect when you’re talking, and turn on microphones to hear what you’re saying.
  • When you’re speaking, they can eliminate background noises to hear what you’re saying better.
  • They can let you access Siri with a simple double-tap. You can then ask Siri to control your AirPods’ volume.
  • They can sync across lots of different devices. Just open your AirPods’ carrying case (which doubles as a charging case) and they’ll be paired with all the devices that linked to your iCloud account.

The W1 chip’s low power usage

The W1 chip is optimised for low power consumption, which allows it to use roughly a third of the power of traditional wireless chips. This means that AirPods should be able to provide five hours of music playback on one charge.

The W1 chip on other products…

As for the future, the W1 chip isn’t just going to be confined to AirPods. Later this year, the Apple-owned Beats will be launching some new wireless headphones with the W1 chip working its magic behind the scenes.

What do you think about the W1 chip? Will you be treating yourself to a pair of AirPods or dropping your money on some Beats? Comment below.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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