The AirPods have proved such a smash hit for Apple that a follow-up isn't so much a question of if, but when. And a new hint tells us that the AirPods 2 may have wellness sensors.
The folks at Patently Apple noticed that Apple has updated its AirPods trademark in Hong Kong and Europe with a new Class 10 designation, which applies to a device intended for general wellness.
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That, according to the description, includes "health, fitness, exercise, and wellness sensors, monitors, speakers and displays for measuring, displaying, tracking, reporting, monitoring, storing, and transmitting biometric data, heart rate, body movement, and calories burned".
So this is another strong hint that the next AirPods will be more of a smart hearable, rather than just a pair of (very good) Bluetooth headphones. Or at least, one of the next AirPods; there's a possibility these health features won't make the next refresh.
Why so cautious? Earlier this year a report from Bloomberg claimed Apple was planning a big update to AirPods for 2019 that would add water resistance and noise cancellation. That said, the report also claimed we'd see a pair of AirPods in 2018 too - with a new W2 wireless chip - and that hasn't happened. With both the iPhone and iPad events now done, it seems unlikely we'll see anything new by Christmas.
So, who knows? But it's clear that Apple sees the AirPods as a new avenue for health, and why wouldn't it? The ear is a really good place for tracking heart rate - there's a lot of blood perfusion - much better than the wrist.
But Apple has clearly priced the first AirPods right, and biometric sensors will push the cost of its headphones up. Maybe we'll see all these rumored features wrapped into one refreshed pair in 2019. Here's hoping.