When Twelve South announced its nifty little travel accessory, the AirFly, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. Its promise: empower AirPod wearers to listen to in-flight movies wirelessly. Just plug the AirFly into the armrest’s 3.5mm headphone jack, pair the earbuds and listen to those yet-to-be-released airplane flicks.
As somebody who loves their AirPods, the AirFly excited me, though not for the reasons you might think. I don’t fly often, so the prospect of using AirFly and my AirPods on an airplane didn’t totally do it for me. Instead, I wanted to see how AirFly changed the way I play video games.
You won’t catch me in big eSports tournaments but I do dabble in the dark arts of a Nintendo Switch and an Xbox One. Since the AirFly came out, I’ve been using the AirPlay and my AirPods on both consoles. The Nintendo Switch really lends itself to the AirPlay. The handheld console doesn’t have Bluetooth built-in — a surprising omission, actually — so you need wired headphones if you don’t want everyone around you to hear everything. And the AirFly works seamlessly with the Switch; after pairing with the AirPods, I just plugged the AirFly into the Switch’s headphone jack and I was good to go. Boom.
When it came to the Xbox, I tried the AirFly with two different controllers — a new controller with a 3.5mm jack and an older one that required a headset adapter ($25). Both worked pretty much the same: the AirPods could play the game’s auto and I could hear my friends, but the built-in microphone didn’t work, so my friends couldn’t hear me. This wasn’t entirely unexpected, as AirPods have been known to have some issues when paired with some non-iPhone smartphones — but still, this was a bit of a bummer.
At the time of testing, I was also playing around with the Oculus Go, the company’s portable VR headset. It has a 3.5mm jack for audio, so I was able to use the AirFly (and my AirPods) while watching the World Cup and playing ‘Settlers of Catan’ in virtual reality. I know that the AirFly was designed specifically to allow people to listen to their AirPods on flights, but I found some other uses. True, I wasn’t able to replace my current gaming headset with your AirPods — most serious gamers wouldn’t dream of doing this anyway — but you can’t blame me for trying. I just like AirPods too damn much.
Editor’s Note: It’s worth noting that the AirPlay isn’t a revolutionary product. There are other Bluetooth receivers on the market that can essentially do the same job. However, the AirFly is specifically marketed for AirPods and has an instruction guide that’s specifically geared to help AirPod owners pair their AirPods — what to press, and for how long, etc. It’s just easier, and I appreciate that.