Christmas Wish: AirPod Double-Tap to Skip

Today I receive my AirPods. Since getting my iPhone 7 a few months ago I’ve been very excited to give these a try. For my type of listening (heavy on podcasts, light on music) they seem ideal. Small, unobtrusive and won’t get snagged on things. The main thing though that has given me some apprehension is the lack of easy playback controls.

The ‘remove to pause’ feature covers most of the instances where I’d currently press the pause button on my white earbud headset controls. It is a rare thing that I’d want to turn off the audio then leave them sitting quietly in my ears. So that side of things is well covered.

Where things get tricky, however, is for skip forward and backwards, or in actual practice skip forward (I probably skip backwards only a fraction of the times I want to skip forward). Currently there are three ways to accomplish this with AirPods:

  • Pull out my iPhone and use the onscreen controls.
  • Raise my Apple Watch, press the side button, swipe over in the Dock to the Now Playing app, select it and press controls (As an aside, I really wish there was a Now Playing complication [filed as radar #26919899])
  • Double-Tap AirPod and ask Siri to skip forward

None of these are great. The first two are certainly workable but feel like I am giving up some of the benefits of being truly wireless. Asking Siri for something like this is just plain awkward. Both in terms of the flow (I have to interrupt the audio, have a conversation, then return to it) and in terms of it disrupting those around me.

What I’d really like is for there to be a way for this to work directly on the AirPod itself. Its lack of physical controls originally made me think this was impossible but as reviews of the AirPods started to come out, I heard that Apple has already provided a mechanism for customizing the double-tap gesture for playback controls…

though sadly not including skip forward as an option :(

This blog post is my polite request that Apple consider adding another option to this setting for “Double-Tap to Skip Forward”. This seems like a natural fit. The Double-Tap on an iPhone headset control has meant skip forward since headset controls were first introduced. The muscle memory I’ve built up over the years for it is significant.

I wouldn’t expect this to be the default, but making it an option here would dramatically increase the utility and convenience of AirPods for me (and I suspect many others).

[Filed as radar #29739099]

David Smith