A couple of weeks ago, an Instagram Story by one of my favorite follows, food stylist Judy Kim, made me press down on my screen and hold. She showed a small dongle hanging from the headphone jack of her airplane seat’s entertainment system and explained that the device let her pair her AirPods so that she could watch movies wirelessly. I had never heard of this and was immediately intrigued — though not surprised by my own ignorance because I am far from a tech-savvy person. I was, however, taken aback by her next slide, which showed many of her followers having an equally bewildered reaction. Has no one ever heard of this?, I wondered.
A quick Google search showed me that the AirFly, as it’s called, has been around for a few years, making the response even more striking. Twelve South, the company that produces it, calls it “the missing link between wireless headphones and wired headphone jacks,” meaning it can be used with your gaming console; the stereo in, say, a rental car; and with any non-Bluetooth speaker where you want to play music or podcasts from your phone. After probing our all-knowing tech writer for more information and finding out that even he didn’t know about it, I called up Kim so she could tell me about this clearly overlooked gadget herself.
I’m a food stylist, and I probably fly about once a month for work. Because I’m packing all the time, I keep a little pouch ready to go that has every kind of cord that I need for travel. Originally, I would save and reuse those free airplane headphones that are really not that comfortable. Then I found a nicer pair of corded Bose headphones and started using those. But now that I have the AirFly, I can use my usual wireless headphones, my AirPod Pros.
I like to sit in the aisle, and this way, when my seatmate inevitably gets up, or I get up, nothing gets tangled. I don’t have to unplug corded headphones, then my seatbelt, and then redo the whole setup, so it’s not a mess. Also, the AirPod Pros have noise-canceling capability. I never thought it was that important before, but planes are noisier than you realize, and it’s just really amazing to be able to use them. I’ve had the AirFly for the last two trips I’ve gone on, and I love it. It makes for a better all-around user experience.
I think that if the product itself was made specifically by Apple, it probably would be more popular, only in the sense that it would have a bigger platform for people to see. But I did actually get mine at the Apple Store. I was just perusing because I had to buy a whole bunch of new electronics after COVID and in the cords section, there are just so many fun little things. But I think people do like it because it’s Apple-endorsed. Sometimes there are cords you buy on Amazon and they don’t really work after a couple of months because they’re not really Apple cords. But this one seems to be good.
I posted it from a trip to Denver recently and I just couldn’t believe how many people had never heard of it. It wasn’t your average, “Oh, that’s super-cool.” Not like, “Oh, I’ve been thinking about it, but I wasn’t sure if it was actually good or not.” I got literally hundreds of responses and there were a handful of people who knew what it was — like maybe two or three — but it was very few.
The reactions ranged from very good friends, to people that I know, to people I don’t know, mostly being like, “I’m buying it now,” “It’s in my shopping cart,” and, kind of jokingly, “Influenced.” It got so much traction — among the highest views of anything I’ve ever posted — that I made it a Highlight. And then it just kept going: “I bought two.” “I bought three.” “I bought one for my whole family.” It was incredible. I think people just really love a little gadget.
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