Apple's AirPods may have been initially ridiculed, but they're now a titanic smart earbuds success, as demonstrated on high streets the world over.
Apple gave them an update earlier this year, with a new wireless charging case, but nothing about the design of the AirPods 2 was actually new.
Read this: Best hearables and smart earbuds to buy
That could be about to change, though. Persistent leaks and rumors suggest that a third generation of AirPods could land in 2019.
We've gathered all the information floating around so far that points to the imminent arrival of another pair of Apple AirPods ‚Äď plus what could be the killer features that will make you want to upgrade.
Apple AirPods 3: The story so far
Our first hint of new Pods came way back in April this year. The folks at Digitimes suggested that the third-generation wireless buds would be up for grabs before the end of the year.
Its industry sources said the key feature for the new AirPods will be the addition of noise cancellation (more on that below), for those times when you need to drown out the world. There was no mention of any of the health tracking features, which we've heard rumored previously for future AirPods.
A month later, it was Digitimes (again), that suggested new AirPods would feature a new internal design. One that would give it room to include other components and hopefully unlock more features. There was some suggestion though that the redesigned model could come in at a higher price than the current AirPods.
The same source suggested that Apple would continue to sell the second generation AirPods, which only went on sale in March this year and could continue being sold well into 2020.
Apple AirPods 3: Design and features
The image above is said to be of potential potential AirPods prototypes. If legit, it would suggest a different form factor to the first two versions of Apple's hearable. The stubbier looking buds are accompanied by a smaller charging case, hinting that if genuine, Apple could be planning to make its buds live more discreetly in the ears.
After that image surfaced, an icon uncovered in a beta version of Apple's iOS operating system suggested that those design changes were on the cards.
In the beta version for iOS 13.2, a grey and white icon (image below) shows a stubbier set of headphones, with the appearance of earbuds, though retaining some of those familiar AirPods design traits.
The icon was found in the accessibility settings for iOS 13.2, and was accompanied by mentions of a "focus mode", which could corroborate the animation below, indicating that users will be able to switch noise isolation on or off at will.
This new animation in iOS 13.2 will teach users how to change noise cancelation options on the new AirPods. https://t.co/p17iN47Sy4pic.twitter.com/T7YwaFw5Cv
‚ÄĒ Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) October 10, 2019
The headline feature that has been strongly rumored to land with these new AirPods is noise cancellation. That would enable the buds to block out environmental noise while you're listening to your audio.
Our biggest indication that this could be coming may lie with the unveiling of new Beats Solo headphones that now offer new noise cancellation features.
The new Solos includes something called Pure Adaptive Noise Cancelling (Pure ANC), which can continually monitor the surrounding environment and adjust to block out ambient noise.
Beats and Apple have said they share the same audio roadmap. It wouldn't be all that surprising if a pair of headphones that uses the same H1 chip found inside of Apple's AirPods is giving us a glimpse of what's to come for the hearable.
Apple AirPods 3 release date and price
So when will those new AirPods launch? Those rumors at the beginning of the year suggested some time before the end of 2019.
Apple is tipped to slip in one last hardware event, possibly in October, to announce a few more pieces of tech. Could that include new AirPods? We definitely wouldn't rule it out.
As mentioned, Apple has already launched a new pair of its AirPods this year, which boasted slightly improved internals alongside that wireless charging case.
But maybe Apple has something even more impressive in store for us on the hearable front before the year is out.