AirPods 2.0 -- What we expect & what we hope to see

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited September 8
AirPods are a fan favorite, but what will the second generation look like? AppleInsider looks towards the future to find out what we expect to see in AirPods 2.0 and the things we would like to see.






In our long-term AirPods review, we talked about how AirPods are one of Apple's great masterpieces. That doesn't mean, however, there isn't room to grow.

What we expect

Leading our crop of expected features is an upgraded wireless charging case. Apple has confirmed this case is incoming when it was announced alongside AirPower and will be available as an optional accessory to existing AirPods owners.

Our main question is whether or not we will see this upgraded case bundled with the new pairs, or left as an add-on. Count us in for the former.

AirPods


Also rumored for some time is baked-in support for "Hey, Siri." This would only make sense and Siri has learned quite a few new tricks this year, so this could go a long way towards making her more accessible when the AirPods are in.

Within each AirPod, is Apple's custom wireless chip, the W1. This power efficient chip enables class 1 Bluetooth audio for phenomenal range and performance. Last year's Series 3 Apple Watch got the W2, so we assume that any new version of AirPods will adopt the latest chip, either the existing W2 or possibly, a yet-to-be-seen W3. This upgraded chipset should also add better connectivity, which wasn't a huge problem in the past, but there is always room for improvement.

Many people opt to wear their AirPods for workouts, even though there isn't much protection against liquids. This time around there should be some semblance of water or sweat resistance. Not enough to wear in the pool, but enough to take them for a jog without worrying they will be damaged.

Lastly, we expect some improvements to the ambient noise handling. A patent from last year describes the process by which AirPods could process ambient noise. Sometimes keeping it out, others letting it in.

This isn't the same as noise canceling necessarily, but a step in that direction. Even without this amount of onboard processing, we hope Apple at a minimum develops a better way to keep outside audio out.

AirPods

What we hope to see

When it comes to what we want to see in AirPods, we can dream a bit bigger.

Apple has been known to keep color options limited, which is no wonder people go gaga at the release of a new iPhone shade. AirPods are currently limited to white, but why not a black pair? Apple has added additional colors to the Mac in recent years -- including a color matched space gray set of keyboard, mouse, and trackpad. It would be great to give users a new option for AirPods.

Instead of just handling ambient noise, our dream AirPods would have full-on noise cancellation. Possibly even something like the intelligent adaptive noise cancellation found in the Libratone Track+.

AirPods


Controls are another area that can be improved. There is a bit of on-board control at the moment using different taps on different ears, but it feels very limited. You have to make the hard choices on whether you want to invoke Siri, change the volume, play/pause, or skip tracks because not all of them can be done at the same time. Apple has nailed gestures and touch sensitivity in the past, so it would be great to see improvements in this area.

Lastly, battery life. We don't particularly have complaints on battery -- 3 hours out of the buds in a single go is pretty solid. But Apple can push this further. There are other buds out there garnering longer usage times, so with a new W2/W3 chip and over a year to work on it, we have our fingers crossed that battery life is able to increase between charges.

If you don't have a set of AirPods, and don't mind skipping out on some of the rumored upcoming features, you can find great deals on them by checking out the AppleInsider price guide.
TonyWard9668
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    wlymwlym Posts: 74member
    Bigger AirPods for bigger earholes. Please.
  • Reply 2 of 58
    The shape and rigidity hurt my ears and like the standard set included with the iPhone, i threw them out.  My hope is that new earbuds from Apple will see the introduction of soft silicon type in-ear buds like some of the competition. I am using a competitors now - and happy, but wish Apple would produce something for people who don’t like the fit, feel or rigidity of the the current Apple products.
    canadiandudecaladanianglynhbigbillygoatgruff
  • Reply 3 of 58
    I don’t really understand what AirPods wirh “Hey, Siri” means. Currently, when I invoke Siri with AirPods there is a delay for the session to start when compared to iPhone/iPad/TV. It would be nice if that delay was shortened. 

    But wouldn’t all Siri inquires go through the connected device anyway? I don’t imagine that AirPods 2 will have Wi-Fi and cellular so they could be used for stand-alone Siri requests. So, what does “support for ‘Hey, Siri’” mean?
  • Reply 4 of 58
    I would expect Bluetooth 5 to be implemented (Apple introduced BT 5 when it released HomePod in Feb).   This will help with latency issues and provide much better communications between devices.  To me this would be a huge improvement.

    As for folks with poor fit issues, there are a number of third party solutions (Earbuddyz etc) to assist.  I found that I needed those with the older wired Ear buds but not with the AirPods.




    Anilu_777repressthiswatto_cobracaladanian
  • Reply 6 of 58
    wlym said:
    Bigger AirPods for bigger earholes. Please.
    Or smaller for smaller ear canals. Or better yet - those little silicon/rubber tips that can not only seal them in your ears (great for noise reduction) but add comfort. 
    caladanian
  • Reply 7 of 58
    I don’t really understand what AirPods wirh “Hey, Siri” means. 
    I think they mean that the AirPods would be "always listening" for the "Hey Siri" command.  Right now, you have to tap the earbud first to wake Siri up.  (In other words, you'd be able to invoke Siri completely touch free via AirPods.)
    litoloopSoliwatto_cobrabrucemc
  • Reply 8 of 58
    So given Apple tendency towards making things smaller... would you rather have smaller AirPods or AirPods with better battery life (say, an hour more)?
  • Reply 9 of 58
    I think the airpods look ugly hanging out of people’s ears, not a great looking design. Would be awesome if they designed them a bit more inconspicuously. Also the Powerbeats 3 still has better battery and sealed in design to keep music loud. 
    canadiandude
  • Reply 10 of 58
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,282member
    emoeller said:
    I would expect Bluetooth 5 to be implemented (Apple introduced BT 5 when it released HomePod in Feb).   This will help with latency issues and provide much better communications between devices.  To me this would be a huge improvement.

    Yes, and while not specifically an AirPod complaint, the ability to pair multiple AirPods to the same device so that two or more people can share the same source at the same time with their wireless earbuds, and not have to pull out any adapters, or wired headphones to do it. 

    I think the airpods look ugly hanging out of people’s ears, not a great looking design. Would be awesome if they designed them a bit more inconspicuously. 
    This is a matter of subjective opinion. For my money I think they look terrible on some people, and fantastic on others. But that's just like anything, and the reason why "wearables" is such a difficult category to get right. This is the main reason I expect to see a round Apple Watch added to the collection eventually, and if Apple gets into the VR glasses game, more than just a square pair of lenses. However rational or irrational, people don't like to look like each other at a certain point, and one-size has never fit-all when it comes to things people wear. YMMV 

    As for more inconspicuous design, that's a different subject. I suspect adding black, or other colors would help with that issue, vs. a complete redesign. That said, I'm sure Apple is working toward the HER movie depiction, of a simple device that's inserted into the ear. But let's have the features right first. 
    brucemc
  • Reply 11 of 58
    shevshev Posts: 67member
    black ones for the love of god black ones. the whole white earphones from apple is just not a thing anymore, I really don't understand why they persist with it. it was defining for the iPod what 15 years ago now, let it go. Black skin on mine make is look 100times better, especially with some black stubble  B)
    chasmbigbillygoatgrufffastasleep
  • Reply 12 of 58
    After taking an extended weekend trip I was horrified to find both of my AirPods in the bottom of my washing machine. I put them into my ears and was surprised to find that the left AirPod worked perfectly while the right one had a notice decrease in volume.  I let them sit out of the case for a day or so and tried them again this tome both of them worked perfectly. So with that being said I’m not sure that water/weather proofing is even needed. 
    watto_cobracanadiandudecaladanian1983StrangeDays
  • Reply 13 of 58
    mac_128 said:
    emoeller said:
    I would expect Bluetooth 5 to be implemented (Apple introduced BT 5 when it released HomePod in Feb).   This will help with latency issues and provide much better communications between devices.  To me this would be a huge improvement.

    Yes, and while not specifically an AirPod complaint, the ability to pair multiple AirPods to the same device so that two or more people can share the same source at the same time with their wireless earbuds, and not have to pull out any adapters, or wired headphones to do it. 

    I think the airpods look ugly hanging out of people’s ears, not a great looking design. Would be awesome if they designed them a bit more inconspicuously. 
    This is a matter of subjective opinion. For my money I think they look terrible on some people, and fantastic on others. But that's just like anything, and the reason why "wearables" is such a difficult category to get right. This is the main reason I expect to see a round Apple Watch added to the collection eventually, and if Apple gets into the VR glasses game, more than just a square pair of lenses. However rational or irrational, people don't like to look like each other at a certain point, and one-size has never fit-all when it comes to things people wear. YMMV 

    As for more inconspicuous design, that's a different subject. I suspect adding black, or other colors would help with that issue, vs. a complete redesign. That said, I'm sure Apple is working toward the HER movie depiction, of a simple device that's inserted into the ear. But let's have the features right first. 
    You're going to see a round iMac ProPro, and a new iPhone RoundyRound, before you ever see a round Watch
    (that is to say; 'never')
    lolliverchristopher126watto_cobracanadiandude
  • Reply 14 of 58

    shev said:
    black ones for the love of god black ones. the whole white earphones from apple is just not a thing anymore, I really don't understand why they persist with it. it was defining for the iPod what 15 years ago now, let it go. Black skin on mine make is look 100times better, especially with some black stubble  B)
    Too hard to find them in the dark.
    As to what 'is' and 'isn't' a thing anymore; you might as well just say "The whole 'Apple' thing isn't a thing anymore". White wasn't defining for the iPod; it was defining for Apple. It's not going away anymore than aluminum is going away.
    watto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 15 of 58
    K_in_LA said:
    After taking an extended weekend trip I was horrified to find both of my AirPods in the bottom of my washing machine. I put them into my ears and was surprised to find that the left AirPod worked perfectly while the right one had a notice decrease in volume.  I let them sit out of the case for a day or so and tried them again this tome both of them worked perfectly. So with that being said I’m not sure that water/weather proofing is even needed. 
    Went thru a similar experience about a year ago. Was wearing them in a bubble bath, with a glass of bourbon listening to the Economist Podcast (as one does) and, inexplicably, I absently touched my ear and the AirPod fell into the bathwater.

    So naturally, the first thing I did was yell at my GF and then wipe them off with a towel.

    I thought they were ruined, but to my amazement, they worked! And have continued working! Unbelievable!



    P.S. AirPods are a game changer...if you haven't bought a pair yet, I'd really recommend buying a set when the new charging case comes out!

    Best. :)
    watto_cobracaladanianGeorgeBMackiltedgreenhubbax
  • Reply 16 of 58
    AdambombAdambomb Posts: 9unconfirmed, member
    One thing, I'll buy them......Able to MUTE a phone call easily on the airpods themselves and NOT the case or Iphone.....Thank you for reading
    watto_cobracaladanian
  • Reply 17 of 58
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,406member
    K_in_LA said:
    After taking an extended weekend trip I was horrified to find both of my AirPods in the bottom of my washing machine. I put them into my ears and was surprised to find that the left AirPod worked perfectly while the right one had a notice decrease in volume.  I let them sit out of the case for a day or so and tried them again this tome both of them worked perfectly. So with that being said I’m not sure that water/weather proofing is even needed. 
    Went thru a similar experience about a year ago. Was wearing them in a bubble bath, with a glass of bourbon listening to the Economist Podcast (as one does) and, inexplicably, I absently touched my ear and the AirPod fell into the bathwater.

    So naturally, the first thing I did was yell at my GF and then wipe them off with a towel.

    I thought they were ruined, but to my amazement, they worked! And have continued working! Unbelievable!


    P.S. AirPods are a game changer...if you haven't bought a pair yet, I'd really recommend buying a set when the new charging case comes out!

    Best. :)
    1) I've read that they're pretty well protected from sweat, so I'm not entirely surprised that they can withstanding less than a foot of water for a few seconds.

    2) I wish they worked for me, but the design isn't comfortable for me ear holes. What oddly feels fine is having the shaft of the AirPods sticking directly out to the side on a horizontal plane. Personally, I'd like for them to include in-ear AirPods, the way they made in-ear Apple headphones for a decade.
  • Reply 18 of 58
    chasmchasm Posts: 997member
    Do we actually have any evidence that the AirPods will be upgraded next week? The more reliable sources seem to be suggesting sometime next year on this. I suppose it could go either way -- AirPods make a great gift, but to my mind there's no evidence that the present model isn't selling as fast as Apple can make them (a fact reiterated by Tim every three months on the analyst call), and the present model has turned out to be a big hit. I'd think AirPods 2.0 would be a good fit for next September, not this one -- but I guess we'll see shortly.
    PickUrPoisonwatto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 19 of 58
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,406member
    chasm said:
    Do we actually have any evidence that the AirPods will be upgraded next week? The more reliable sources seem to be suggesting sometime next year on this. I suppose it could go either way -- AirPods make a great gift, but to my mind there's no evidence that the present model isn't selling as fast as Apple can make them (a fact reiterated by Tim every three months on the analyst call), and the present model has turned out to be a big hit. I'd think AirPods 2.0 would be a good fit for next September, not this one -- but I guess we'll see shortly.
    I don't think there's any direct evidence, but a year ago they did announce there would be an inductive AirPods case so I'd call that AirPods 2.0 even if all we get are the AirPods in the new case that has both a Lightning port and inductive charger. That said, if you're going to do that then why not add to the other, at least from a marketing standpoint, like adding a W2 chip with BT 5.0, even if it's just there to reduce power usage over W1, with came out 2 years ago this year?
    edited September 8 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 58
    Airpods are one of the best products Apple has made. Not perfect, but just so good at many things. I can see why they sell so many of them.

    An improved version of Airpods would be nothing short of outstanding. 
    watto_cobrachristopher126backstab1983kiltedgreen
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