Apple Tested Touch Controls for the AirPods Max, Prototyped Hundreds of Designs

AirPods Max Spatial Audio

In an interview with Japanese website Casa BRUTUS, Apple’s Vice President of industrial design Evans Hankey, Vice President of product marketing Bob Borchers, and industrial designer Eugene Whang revealed some interesting information about the development of AirPods Max.

Talking about the controls on AirPods Max, the trio claimed that Apple tested touch controls on the device, as seen on many Sony and Bose headphones. But, in the end, Apple settled for a larger version of the well-acclaimed Apple Watch’s Digital Crown. Most of the reviewers said that the decision of going with Digital Crown was a good decision by Apple. The Verge’s review stated that the digital crown felt natural to use.

I’ve really come to like the crown for controlling volume and playback. You don’t get the false inputs or missed swipes that can happen with touch gestures.

Apple claims that it started working on AirPods Max way back in 2015. Adding to this, Hankey, in the interview, said that Apple went over a number of designs for AirPods Max, before the company settled for the metal design. The company wanted to find a balance between comfort and sound quality, the interview claimed. Most of the reviews said that the AirPods Max ‘was heavy to use.’ Marques Brownlee, in his review, said that “it’s easy to forget that you’re wearing them until you move your head up or down and realize how heavy this thing is.”

The stainless steel headband has an eggshell-like finish and is designed like none we’ve ever seen—it features what Apple calls a “canopy” of knit mesh that makes contact with your head where headband cushioning usually would. This part, in particular, really looks like a detail from a Herman Miller office chair.

airpods max smart case design

Coming to the Smart Case, most of the reviewers criticized Apple for its strange design. The review claimed that the case is of no use since it doesn’t provide any kind of protection to the headband, and the ports slot did not fit in well with the design. Whang, who oversaw the case’s design, said that the headband is strong enough and won’t wear over time. The smart case was designed to be storage efficient, he added.

I wouldn’t feel good about throwing this into a packed bag; the ear cups could get scratched since there are so many slits in the case, and something could poke through that exposed mesh canopy. The case also picks up dirt and smudges in no time.

Everyone else gets this right, and it’s baffling that Apple could get it so wrong.

AirPods Max costs $549 and comes with magnetically-attachable memory foam ear cushions, active noise cancellation, and stainless steel telescoping arms. Check out the best features of AirPods Max here.

What’s Your Take?

Do you like AirPods Max design? Have you ordered one? What are your thoughts on the smart case? Do let us know in the comment section below!