Apple is primed to launch new AirPods in 2019 with some big features that should make its toothbrush head-looking buds a whole lot smarter.
That's according to Bloomberg, which has spoken to people familiar with the details. Its sources claim Apple is going to upgrade its Pods with noise cancelling and a water resistant design, as part of a bigger push into audio. But before you start getting excited about jumping in the pool with your AirPods, that extra layer of durability is to fend off sweat and rain, according to people familiar with the changes Apple has planned, so you still won't be able to swim with them.
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The improved AirPods are tipped to cost more than the current AirPods, which are currently priced at $159, and will come with a wireless charging case that should work with Apple's delayed AirPower charger.
It seems Apple is also exploring other ways to smarten up its earbuds, with another another person close to the matter claiming that internal discussions have taken place about the possibility of adding biometric sensors like a heart rate sensor. We have of course seen the likes of Bragi, Jabra and Samsung track heart rate from the ears for fitness purposes, but it sounds like Apple is thinking of something that goes way beyond measuring the intensity of your HIIT classes.
Before those supercharged AirPods land, Apple is expected to offer some other upgrades with new AirPods that will launch in 2018. The second-generation AirPods are expected to add improved Siri functionality letting you say, "Hey Siri" to activate the smart assistant without touching the buds. They are also expected to pack the same W2 wireless chip, which debuted on the Apple Watch Series 3, and should help improve Bluetooth connection between the AirPods and your iPhone. Those AirPods are likely to land alongside new iPhones, which usually drop in September.
As for the supercharged AirPods earmarked for 2019, it sounds like it's the latest move from Apple to turn the popular accessory into a proper hearable that goes beyond the basics. That's not to say the current version isn't going to get smarter though. A new Live Listen feature is set be introduced with iOS 12 when it's available to download later this year, bringing hearing aid-style features to current AirPods. Say what you will about sound quality, Apple has made an incredibly practical pair of Bluetooth headphones in the AirPods - now it's time to make them smarter.