The force sensor is technically a serrated part of the stems of AirPods Pro, with some devices measuring capacitive touch and pressure as well.
But the dummy buttons solve one of the most annoying things about earphones: how to control them.
The issue of controlling wireless headphones is relatively new.
Older in-ear headphones often included a row of buttons across their wires, which allowed volume and playback controls to be easily accessible and found.
But in-ear wireless headphones don’t leave much room for buttons or ways to control playback, forcing manufacturers to come up with alternative solutions.
And touch controls used by headphones, such as: Galaxy Buds or regular AirPods, appeared as the most common answer.
For example, you can single, double, or triple tap through the earbuds to play, pause, and skip your tracks.
But the problem is that the earphones are inside the ear.
The clicking controls mean that you either push these earbuds sometimes painfully into your ear or dislodge them, and you risk losing or damaging them when they fall to the ground.
Apple avoids these two problems with the force sensor:
Instead of squeezing your ear, Apple is getting users to squeeze the AirPod’s leg.
This method does not move the earpiece as much, which reduces the problem of discomfort and the risk of falling.
The AirPod’s controls are very similar to other methods of controlling a headphone.
For example, single tap to switch between play and pause, double tap to skip track forward, and triple tap to skip backward.
There’s also a fourth long press, which toggles the different noise canceling modes.
The design guides you how to use it as well and where to press the button. While it is difficult to activate the button unintentionally, that is because it needs some slight force.
There is no physical tactile feedback from the force sensor.
But Apple makes you feel like you’re pressing a button with the sound effects of the clicks being transmitted through the earbuds.
Apple is rumored to be testing a new version of AirPods Pro that will remove the previous and force sensor entirely.