Apple might launch wireless earbuds with power saving Bluetooth chip in September

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2016
Adding fuel to claims that Apple intends to do away with the stalwart 3.5mm headphone jack in the next iPhone, a report on Thursday says the company is making progress on a pair of wireless earbuds built around a custom low-power Bluetooth chip.




Citing a source familiar with Apple's project, Forbes reports the unnamed product -- although AirPods would be a catchy moniker -- has been in development for a "few years" and might finally see launch in September. That month, of course, is when Apple is widely expected to announce its next-generation iPhone, which rumor has it will not include a 3.5mm headphone jack.

A great number of third-party manufacturers, and Apple's own Beats brand, market wireless earbuds, but none have been able to solve the biggest problem for any portable device: battery life. Today's report claims Apple's earbuds will do just that using technology from Passif Semiconductor, a specialist in power efficient chipsets the tech giant acquired in 2013.

That Apple is developing a set of Bluetooth-capable headphones is unsurprising, as the company likely has a multitude of side projects in its quest for the next big thing -- many of which will never see the light of day. However, the fact that in-house technology is being used to power the supposed device makes today's rumor a bit more believable.

Apple normally sources complex components from supplier chipmakers like Qualcomm. In other cases, when no ideal solution is available in the open market, Apple does turn to its own engineers to create bespoke components. Designing, fabricating, testing and producing computer chips is cost-intensive, but the strategy guarantees a high-quality part that suits Apple's exact needs. The A-series chips that power all iOS devices are a good example of this philosophy.

As for wireless earbuds, Apple is no stranger to the product class. From the failed iPhone Bluetooth Headset to current Beats models, Apple has a long history with cramming advanced wireless technology into exceedingly small designs. The company also owns a number of patents relating to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi earbuds, though it has yet to bring the technology to market.

Apple is widely expected to announce a pair of new iPhone handsets at a special event this fall, with rumors pegging a debut in the first week of September. Unlike past iPhone product cycles, this year Apple is thought to carry over the design language introduced in 2014 with iPhone 6. Some expect at least one major change, however, in the deletion of iPhone's 3.5mm headphone jack, which would require Lightning EarPods, a Lightning-to-audio adaptor or an all-wireless audio solution.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    I've got a set of really nice bluetooth Sony headphones. I ultimately decided to get them when I realized Apple wasn't coming out with anything bluetooth in that field for a while. (And Beats is not something I want to pay for given the fact that it's not obviously any better than the competition despite the higher price.) But if Apple can get long lasting wireless ear buds out, I'll certainly buy a pair.
    lostkiwiTurboPGTtmaybadmonk
  • Reply 2 of 36
    This is no surprise, Even if they don't remove the 3.5 mm port, there will likely be an Bluetooth ear pods design. Apple has been pushing toward a Bluetooth switch into headphones at some point. That is not surprising with now every apple device supporting Bluetooth.
    lostkiwibadmonk
  • Reply 3 of 36
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    This would be HUGE and reason enough to upgrade.

    3 things bother me most about removing the jack:

    1. Bluetooth headphones are crap compared to studio headphones.

    2. Lightning jacks are not much better than 3.5mm aesthetically(long explanation)

    3. Battery life

    Current Bluetooth tech isn't even worth sacrificing battery for. I do get the feeling Apple will sell awesome 3.5mm to lightning dongles though. If Apple/Beats can nail audio then all would be GREAT!!

    If these rumors are true I wouldn't be as mad as I was a few months ago.


    lostkiwitmay
  • Reply 4 of 36
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Sick and tired of wired EarPods and wired earbuds in general.  The tangling and bad fitment are annoying enough.
    Then there's the pain of having your sealed in-ear buds being ripped out when the wire catches on something.
    Good riddance to wired earbuds.

    On the other hand, I've had a pair of the low-end Jaybird BT earbuds for 2+ years, and they're only barely OK.
    Not much bass, even with a tight seal.  Cheaply built.  The right bud rattles ever since I dropped them once.
    (No rattle during playback, just when handling them, which degrades the ownership experience.)
    And I inevitably lose one of the silicone ear-tips.  I haven't used the Jaybirds since I lost an ear-tip - about 6 months.

    If the rumors of Apple-branded BT earbuds are true, I'll consider them vs. the all-new Jaybird high-end model
    and maybe also the Beats BT earbuds.  The latter two being $200.  Ouch.  Other brands are probably just as pricey.
    edited August 2016 Deelronlostkiwiawilliams87TurboPGT
  • Reply 5 of 36
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,829member
    So have they solved the latency issue with BT headphones and watching video. Audio and video is never in sync.
    baconstangwozwoz
  • Reply 6 of 36
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    cali said:
    This would be HUGE and reason enough to upgrade.

    3 things bother me most about removing the jack:

    1. Bluetooth headphones are crap compared to studio headphones.

    2. Lightning jacks are not much better than 3.5mm aesthetically(long explanation)

    3. Battery life

    Current Bluetooth tech isn't even worth sacrificing battery for. I do get the feeling Apple will sell awesome 3.5mm to lightning dongles though. If Apple/Beats can nail audio then all would be GREAT!!

    If these rumors are true I wouldn't be as mad as I was a few months ago.


    Devices using the new Bluetooth v5 should be rolled out later this year and early next year.  Maybe the iPhone "7" will lead the pack.
    Supposedly the v5 spec allows for "quadruple the range, double the speed, and an eight-fold increase in data broadcasting capacity".
    (Quoted from the Wikipedia Bluetooth article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth#Bluetooth_v5 .) 
    roundaboutnow
  • Reply 7 of 36
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,399member
    cali said:
    This would be HUGE and reason enough to upgrade.

    3 things bother me most about removing the jack:

    1. Bluetooth headphones are crap compared to studio headphones.

    2. Lightning jacks are not much better than 3.5mm aesthetically(long explanation)

    3. Battery life

    Current Bluetooth tech isn't even worth sacrificing battery for. I do get the feeling Apple will sell awesome 3.5mm to lightning dongles though. If Apple/Beats can nail audio then all would be GREAT!!

    If these rumors are true I wouldn't be as mad as I was a few months ago.


    This just made me think of something, which is, maybe they need the room the headphone jack occupied to put in new wireless tech to achieve this low power BT, among other things. It would be ironic if the currently superior, universal wired connection had to be removed in order to provide comparable wireless hardware, but that's progress. And I'd take it.
    edited August 2016
  • Reply 8 of 36
    razormaidrazormaid Posts: 299member
    So have they solved the latency issue with BT headphones and watching video. Audio and video is never in sync.
    Yes they have. not even a month after Apple purchasse beats they fixed the blutooth sync issue and that was over a year ago last February.  The problem was the never announced it. They told you about it if you took them in to complain. They did it through a firmware update on the betas site so no new purchase was needed. I own 7 pairs of PowerBeats2 wireless and all work great. 
    edited August 2016 roundaboutnow
  • Reply 9 of 36
    mobiusmobius Posts: 377member
    They need to build in a tiny parachute that deploys when it senses it's fallen out and started to plunge to inevitable doom on the ground below. Or, better yet, a tiny motor and propellers that deploy in the same circumstances and send it back to base (there could be a slight chance of accidental deployment causing painful and unsightly slashes to the user's face - but a small price to pay in the name of progress!).

    kickstarter?  :)
  • Reply 10 of 36

    Apple is widely expected to announce a pair of new iPhone handsets at a special event this fall, with rumors pegging a debut in the first week of September. Unlike past iPhone product cycles, this year Apple is thought to carry over the design language introduced in 2014 with iPhone 6.
    What a bunch of morons if they use that design. IT SUCKS LIKE NOTHING ELSE. I mean people have different ear sizes. But apple thinks one size fits all.

    The old ones where even better, atleast you cuold upgrade them with standard old meshing to snug the fit so they dont constantly drop out of the ear. So annoying.... I wouldn't pay a dime for those. NOT even if i buy the phone because i still pay for them in the phone.
    edited August 2016
  • Reply 11 of 36
    mobius said:
    They need to build in a tiny parachute that deploys when it senses it's fallen out and started to plunge to inevitable doom on the ground below. Or, better yet, a tiny motor and propellers that deploy in the same circumstances and send it back to base (there could be a slight chance of accidental deployment causing painful and unsightly slashes to the user's face - but a small price to pay in the name of progress!).

    kickstarter?  :)


    They have some patent which asserts a method wherein, when the phone falls, based on the gyroscope, it'll try to fall in a way that will cause minimal damage.

    I don't remember the details though.

    singularity
  • Reply 12 of 36
    SztSzt Posts: 1member
    This is no surprise, Even if they don't remove the 3.5 mm port, there will likely be an Bluetooth ear pods design. Apple has been pushing toward a Bluetooth switch into headphones at some point. That is not surprising with now every apple device supporting Bluetooth.
    I guess they have been testing them since IOS 9.2 update given that since this update there has been streaming issues for hearing impaired using bluetooth streaming technology protocol that has left many with hearing-aid bluetooth streaming very frustrated with no urgency since April to remedy, with ensuing updates not addressing stable streaming 
  • Reply 13 of 36
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 670editor
    mobius said:
    They need to build in a tiny parachute that deploys when it senses it's fallen out and started to plunge to inevitable doom on the ground below. Or, better yet, a tiny motor and propellers that deploy in the same circumstances and send it back to base (there could be a slight chance of accidental deployment causing painful and unsightly slashes to the user's face - but a small price to pay in the name of progress!).

    kickstarter?  :)


    They have some patent which asserts a method wherein, when the phone falls, based on the gyroscope, it'll try to fall in a way that will cause minimal damage.

    I don't remember the details though.

    Airbags. When it drops, senses the inertia change / accelerometer change, inflate airbags.
    mobius
  • Reply 14 of 36
    Maybe These Airpods are not just headphones but actually also the new iPod shuffle. They could easily throw in 2GB of storage onto the SoC design. So for running or workouts all
    you need is to plug in those AirPods into your ears 
  • Reply 15 of 36
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,626member
    Better come with the iPhone in the box and not be an extra purchase.

    You can just see it: hey we did away with the jack!. You can just use this dongle ($29 if you lose it) to connect to the Lightning port, or, pay an extra $99 for these sexy little beasts, that will be supply constrained right through to February.

    the Apple I loved is looking more and more cactus. Gwyneth Paltrow, geriatric laptops at premium prices, fossilised pro desktops.  It is getting. Really hard to recommend.
    Habi_tweet
  • Reply 16 of 36
    foljsfoljs Posts: 327member

    Apple is widely expected to announce a pair of new iPhone handsets at a special event this fall, with rumors pegging a debut in the first week of September. Unlike past iPhone product cycles, this year Apple is thought to carry over the design language introduced in 2014 with iPhone 6.
    What a bunch of morons if they use that design. IT SUCKS LIKE NOTHING ELSE. I mean people have different ear sizes. But apple thinks one size fits all.

    The old ones where even better, atleast you cuold upgrade them with standard old meshing to snug the fit so they dont constantly drop out of the ear. So annoying.... I wouldn't pay a dime for those. NOT even if i buy the phone because i still pay for them in the phone.
    What are you going on about? This is the first time I hear someone complaining for headphones not fitting them because of different ear size. Outlier much?
    nolamacguyxmhillx
  • Reply 17 of 36
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    mac_128 said:
    cali said:
    This would be HUGE and reason enough to upgrade.

    3 things bother me most about removing the jack:

    1. Bluetooth headphones are crap compared to studio headphones.

    2. Lightning jacks are not much better than 3.5mm aesthetically(long explanation)

    3. Battery life

    Current Bluetooth tech isn't even worth sacrificing battery for. I do get the feeling Apple will sell awesome 3.5mm to lightning dongles though. If Apple/Beats can nail audio then all would be GREAT!!

    If these rumors are true I wouldn't be as mad as I was a few months ago.


    This just made me think of something, which is, maybe they need the room the headphone jack occupied to put in new wireless tech to achieve this low power BT, among other things. It would be ironic if the currently superior, universal wired connection had to be removed in order to provide comparable wireless hardware, but that's progress. And I'd take it.
    most unlikely. if it has an improved BT chip I'd imagine it would replace the old BT chip, not take up the large volume the 3.5mm port takes up. 
  • Reply 18 of 36
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,012moderator
    "You're wearing them wrong."  That's the only position I imagine Apple taking, as they can't be so dense as to not be aware there are people for whom EVERY EARBUD DESIGN GOING BACK AT LEAST AS FAR AS THE IPHONE 4S JUST FALLS OUT OF THE EAR AFTER LESS THAN TWO MINUTES.  WITHOUT FAIL.   4S was my first iPhone, so can't speak to whatever they shipped with previous iPhones.  Argh!
    Habi_tweet
  • Reply 19 of 36
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    There is another huge aspect to battery life with Li-ion batteries and that is they generally start to need replacing in 3 years.  My 2012 MBPR is giving me a warning in the menu bar - 'replace soon' and battery life isn't great.

    These earbuds won't be cheap, I would guess around $180.  I doubt the batteries will be replaceable, so even though some people have deep enough pockets they would think little of ditching a $180 pair of earbuds every 3-4 years, for everyone else, these might not be very good value for money.
  • Reply 20 of 36
    TurboPGTTurboPGT Posts: 355member
    I hope they make an in-ear / noise cancelling pair too. Even if though they would be sold separately at a premium.
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