Taking a look at the rumors surrounding Apple's 'AirPods 2'

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 26
Apple's AirPods are a highly popular accessory, but with the possibility of a second-generation on the way that could include health tracking-related features, the next version is likely to be both more useful and even more desirable. AppleInsider looks at the rumors surrounding the upcoming earwear.

Apple's AirPods

Familiar yet new

A recent report from Digitimes claimed Apple is set to release AirPods 2 sometime in the first half of 2019, packing some new health monitoring features and other upgrades, like wireless charging and Hey Siri support. The upgrades sound great and we're all excited to see what's in store for the next-generation of AirPods.





Wireless charging is coming to the AirPods, and we know that for a fact as Phil Schiller announced the optional AirPods wireless charging case alongside the AirPower charging mat at Apple's 2017 September event. If the wireless charging case will still be an optional purchase for either the original or next-gen AirPods, then the new version of AirPods will surely maintain the same form factor as before.

In February of 2018, rumors came out of a new pair of AirPods featuring Hey Siri support, improved water resistance and an upgrade to the W2 chip. A few months later at Apple's September Event, we were shown a short clip of one of Apple's staff using the Hey Siri feature with AirPods and running through a shallow pool of water at Apple's new headquarters, hinting at better water resistance.

An Apple illustration of a wireless charging AirPods case on the unreleased AirPower charging mat
An Apple illustration of a wireless charging AirPods case on the unreleased AirPower charging mat


We can surely expect those features to come, and I personally believe the new AirPods will feature Bluetooth 5 and the W3 chip instead of W2, since the Apple Watch Series 4 already packs the W3 chip.

On Thursday, a "Hey Siri" configuration tool was discovered in the first iOS 12.2 beta, seemingly confirming the addition of the function for AirPods, though not necessarily advising if it would work with the current generation or that a new iteration is required.

There have also been rumors concerning future AirPods gaining active noise-cancellation, but we haven't heard much about that beyond whispers.

Healthy improvements

A big expected change for the next generation is the inclusion of health monitoring features.

Almost two years ago, Apple filed for three patents titled "Earbuds with biometric sensing." A more recent revelation is a patent that describes ways to allow an earbud to fit more securely within the ear canal, allowing it to have better contact with the skin.

Considering their content, these patents are more than likely meant for the AirPods.

An image from an Apple patent showing how an earbud could be made to contact the ear, making it more useful for PPG measurements
An image from an Apple patent showing how an earbud could be made to contact the ear, making it more useful for PPG measurements


Given the existing patents, we can expect the integration of a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor, the same used in the Apple Watch to measure a user's heart rate.

Interestingly, the patents talked about a temperature sensor which can possibly detect both the core temperature of the user and ambient temperature as well. The patents also mentioned a sensor to measure blood oxygen levels, which can be useful for things such as keeping track of your aerobic endurance.

Also alluded to was the use of electrodes that can cooperatively measure a number of different biometric parameters, like galvanic skin response or electrical activity of the heart, which is a different implementation of the same core technology that's used in the Apple Watch Series 4 to perform an electrocardiogram (ECG).

An ECG test using AirPods would simply measure the impulses going to each ear and make sure they're no irregularities.

But of course, there's no guarantee that we'll see this feature in the next-gen AirPods. Knowing Apple, better sound quality is likely as well.

The past is too good

Now, with all of those exciting features and updates coming to the new AirPods, what could possibly be the biggest threat to their sales? Well, none other than Apple's current AirPods themselves.

If you think about, many people are extremely happy with their AirPods, and if they're already satisfying your wireless earphone needs, why should you spend at least another $160 for an updated set?

Apple's current version of the AirPods.
Apple's current version of the AirPods.


There is always something new coming. You can always wait for the next version of something -- but that's a harder wait if you don't have a set, and don't know exactly when the next version is arriving.

There is excitement surrounding the possibility of updated AirPods.However, when reality strikes and Apple announces the price of these new AirPods, a lot of current AirPods owners are going to have to decide if those new features will add enough value to their lives to make them worth spending the cash all over again.

It will probably come down to an individual judgement if the health monitoring features are worth it.

Where to buy AirPods

Adorama currently has Apple's first-generation AirPods in stock with free shipping.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    AdambombAdambomb Posts: 12unconfirmed, member
    Im not interested until they can mute a phone call from the airpods directly
    designr
  • Reply 2 of 27
    BLWBLW Posts: 1member
    You focused mainly on whether or not people will be willing to upgrade to the newer AirPod 2s.   This ignores those who don't currently own AirPods and are interested in buying them, but might be waiting for the coming refresh.  The current AirPods seem to still be selling well.  Who is buying them?  First time AirPod buyers, I would imagine.  If this is the case, there should be lots of first time AirPod buyers who will be buying AirPod 2s as their first pair of AirPods.  They may be upgrading from wired phones.
    backstabMplsPlolliver
  • Reply 3 of 27
    Love mine but hope they do something about fit. Mine stay in just fine under normal circumstances, but To get full volume/fidelity I have to hold them in tightly. This is an issue at the gym where ambient noise is an issue. Perhaps things would be different if podcasts were recorded at a higher volume; have noticed that some are hard to hear even when cranked up all the way. To be fair, I haven’t got the best hearing, but with earbuds that mimic hearing aids this should not be an issue. 
  • Reply 4 of 27
    BLW said:
    You focused mainly on whether or not people will be willing to upgrade to the newer AirPod 2s.   This ignores those who don't currently own AirPods and are interested in buying them, but might be waiting for the coming refresh.  The current AirPods seem to still be selling well.  Who is buying them?  First time AirPod buyers, I would imagine.  If this is the case, there should be lots of first time AirPod buyers who will be buying AirPod 2s as their first pair of AirPods.  They may be upgrading from wired phones.
    One of the most important things I mentioned was that people who don’t currently own AirPods should definitely hold off on buying a set until the 2nd-gen AirPods come out. 

    We have an editing process here so I guess that part got edited out of the final script and I didn’t notice. 

    But yes, if you don’t have AirPods yet, definitely wait and buy the new ones! No tough decision to be made there :) 
    repressthis
  • Reply 5 of 27
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 271member
    You ask whether existing Airpod owners will find enough new to cause them to spend $160 all over again.  I love my Airpods, but after 2+ years of frequent use, the batteries in the pods themselves deplete much more quickly then when they were new.  I am just waiting for the new ones to come out before I switch - and give the old ones to my daughter :-)
    StrangeDaysrepressthislolliver
  • Reply 6 of 27
    I have a first gen. set and love them...definitely will be getting the next ones, mainly b/c of the charging case! :)

    One of the best purchases I've made in recent memory! :)

    The AirPods are a uniquely Apple product. 

    Couldn't imagine going back to wired earbuds. 

    Best.

    P.S. Thanks for the review, Vadim. Really enjoy your vid's too! Just excellent! :)
    flyingdprepressthislolliver
  • Reply 7 of 27
    FolioFolio Posts: 543member
    I still see lots of white-wired listeners walking around my east coast US city (and when I gaze in mirror). With the improvements and stellar safety record I expect these things to fly. The charging mat as well. A flying carpet of magical wearables!
    repressthis
  • Reply 8 of 27
    doggonedoggone Posts: 181member
    AirPods is probably the best product has brought out in the last few years.  Great sound, fit and battery life.  The charging case was an amazing idea.
    How can they improve on that?  Improve battery life, Siri implementation, and fo course adding health monitoring could be interesting.
    My biggest request is simple.  Offer a version in black!
    Japheylolliver
  • Reply 9 of 27
    Here’s the reason why Apple should’ve bought Sennheiser instead of (or perhaps in addition to) Beats: 


    philboogie
  • Reply 10 of 27
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,943member
    Apple, make regular Airpod and every now and than update with improvements. Than, make advanced Airpod with health features. Both can co-exist with price difference.
    repressthis
  • Reply 11 of 27
    I have a first gen. set and love them...definitely will be getting the next ones, mainly b/c of the charging case! :)

    One of the best purchases I've made in recent memory! :)

    The AirPods are a uniquely Apple product. 

    Couldn't imagine going back to wired earbuds. 

    Best.

    P.S. Thanks for the review, Vadim. Really enjoy your vid's too! Just excellent! :)
    Thanks! Much appreciated :)
    repressthis
  • Reply 12 of 27
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,648member
    Sounds great, can’t wait. The most Apple product of the last five years.
    I suspect the Cook pricing strategy to be followed though. Price of AirPod 1 drops $20, price of Airpod 2 rises $40.

    repressthislolliver
  • Reply 13 of 27
    This is cool. My AirPods went through the wash. The AirPods still worked (while they had a charge), but the case doesn't and I haven't gotten around to replacing it. Now I guess I'll replace the whole lot with the next gen and have a (sort of decent) excuse.
    repressthis
  • Reply 14 of 27
    Here’s the reason why Apple should’ve bought Sennheiser instead of (or perhaps in addition to) Beats: 


    Not a very compelling reason to have bought them instead of Beats, which has earned billions and launched Apple Music. 
    repressthisradarthekatlolliver
  • Reply 15 of 27
    entropys said:
    Sounds great, can’t wait. The most Apple product of the last five years.
    I suspect the Cook pricing strategy to be followed though. Price of AirPod 1 drops $20, price of Airpod 2 rises $40.

    So you believe new products which do more things should not cost more than a product which did less? Such a bizarre world view....
    radarthekat
  • Reply 16 of 27
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,648member
    No I expect the price of technology to fall over time. That is what it has done for the last forty years. That means you get more value for the same dollar over time.
    MplsPmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 27
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,595member
    Love mine but hope they do something about fit. Mine stay in just fine under normal circumstances, but To get full volume/fidelity I have to hold them in tightly. This is an issue at the gym where ambient noise is an issue. Perhaps things would be different if podcasts were recorded at a higher volume; have noticed that some are hard to hear even when cranked up all the way. To be fair, I haven’t got the best hearing, but with earbuds that mimic hearing aids this should not be an issue. 
    I commute on a bike. Would the pods require a tether from one to the other for assurance? I wonder if active noise cancellation would help in your gymnasium? We have late model noise cancelling Sony headphones (WH-1000X M3) which are amazing at cancelling even non-repeating noise. My hearing has fallen off a ledge with age (at higher frequencies), Apple's EarPods with hearing aid like capabilities would be great (and possibly already exist, I haven't checked, such as frequency band selective signal boost).
  • Reply 18 of 27
    Wouldn't mind the health features, but really don't care. I just want more additional gesture controls.
  • Reply 19 of 27
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,283member
    entropys said:
    Sounds great, can’t wait. The most Apple product of the last five years.
    I suspect the Cook pricing strategy to be followed though. Price of AirPod 1 drops $20, price of Airpod 2 rises $40.

    So you believe new products which do more things should not cost more than a product which did less? Such a bizarre world view....
    Its literally the way the computer industry worked for years. New computers, better processors, often cheaper prices. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 20 of 27
    The article says that hands free Hey Siri may become available, partly based on the short clip shown in the opening scene in the September Keynote event where an Apple employee seems to be using the feature. However, the closing credits quickly show small text at the bottom that says “Using Siri with AirPods requires compatible Apple devices. Sequences shortened
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